“If you want peace, work for justice.”
This famous quote comes from Pope Paul VI’s address for the Day of Peace in 1972, and these words ring out with the strength of truth to the present day.
Peace and Justice Are Personal AND Global Concepts
Peace and justice are common words. We use them in our workplaces, in our homes and in everyday interactions. They help us describe the state of our souls or to illuminate our sense of being wronged. Every human has personally experienced the meaning of these words through their sense of well-being or unease and anger.
Peace and justice are also grand words. They express something we look for in the world at large. We want the whole world to be at peace and the whole world to operate in justice.
Why do these concepts seem inextricably linked? Let’s explore the meaning and relationship between these key concepts and look at some of the ways peace and justice are violated in the world today.
What’s the Relationship Between Peace and Justice?
The relationship between peace and justice is intrinsic. Peace is an indication that the current state of affairs (interiorly in the case of a person’s mind or soul or exteriorly between peoples or nations) is harmonious and properly ordered. It is a state of tranquility, a sense that “all’s right with the world.”
Here’s how Pope Paul VI explains it:
“It is difficult, but essential, to form a genuine idea of Peace. It is difficult for one who closes his eyes to his innate intuition of it, which tells him that Peace is something very human. This is the right way to come to the genuine discovery of Peace: if we look for its true source, we find that it is rooted in a sincere feeling for man. A Peace that is not the result of true respect for man is not true Peace. And what do we call this sincere feeling for man? We call it Justice.”
According to Pope Paul VI, justice is a sincere feeling toward the other.
A nation with sincere feeling toward a marginalized group living within its borders will not oppress, persecute or drive them out. A person with sincere feeling toward another person will not steal from them, cheat them or spread rumors about them. People with sincere feelings toward themselves will treat themselves with respect and kindness.
By Pope Paul VI’s explanation, sincerity is something we owe each other by virtue of our worth as human beings. Any action or state of being that diminishes or does not recognize our human value is unjust.
Learn More About Peace and Justice in Our New Resource
Divine Word Missionaries work passionately to address issues related to peace and justice and to help those who are most affected by conflict. From our work fighting human trafficking to our work supporting migrants and refugees, we are confronting sources of conflict and attempting to bring true and lasting peace.