The news is full of stories of conflict, poverty, and destruction. For most of us, these stories cause a moment or a day of sadness or concern. Maybe we even offer a prayer for those impacted by the chaos.
The sad reality, though, is that we quickly move on. We read the next tragic news story or return to what we were doing before and the tragedy passes from our minds as quickly as it entered. Because we are humans with a limited capacity for attention, the conflict and chaos in countries far away from us is forgotten. Part of this forgetting may be due to the fact that we feel we cannot do anything to help, except offer up our little prayer.
However, it’s worth dwelling on conflict and injustice around the world in order to understand why it happens and what its consequences are. As Christians, we are called to promote peace and justice, and in order to do that, we must first understand it.
Understanding Peace and Justice Is the First Step
Can you define peace and justice? We all understand what peace and justice mean intuitively, but it is harder to define them or to apply these definitions to situations of violence and conflict.
Peace is a state of tranquility and unity, a state in which war and tension have no place. Peace is one of the greatest expressions of our humanity because achieving peace requires cooperation, mutual respect, concern for others and an ability to see the common humanity that unites us all.
Justice is best understood as “giving to others what is their due,” or to put it even more simply, “fairness.” Both definitions relate that human beings evaluate what we owe to the people around us and what is owed to us in return and operate based on these judgments.
Because working for peace and justice is one of our core mission areas, we have spent time as a community uncovering what peace and justice look like and how they can be achieved. The Church over the years has also developed a rich tradition of talking about the importance of peace and justice. Many religious and laypeople work to care for the people impacted by conflict.
Announcing Our New Resource: Impact on Peace and Justice
Our new detailed resource on peace and justice explores the concepts of peace and justice, presents some surprising facts and statistics about the state of conflict and violence around the world, and shares stories from our missionaries about ways they have encountered unrest and injustice and attempted to offer their help to the people most affected.
In this resource, you’ll learn:
- The famous quote from Pope Paul VI that explains peace and justice
- Whether the world is becoming more or less peaceful on the whole
- The dollar amount countries spend on war versus the amount they spend on conflict prevention
- One girl’s story about her escape from human trafficking
- How Divine Word Missionaries are at work for peace and justice
Catholics and Catholic religious have a special responsibility to act for peace and justice in the world. History is full of fascinating examples of saints and religious who spoke out for peace and justice and made history.