Entries tagged with “Peace”.


Larger viewI’ve really struggled with what to write about the triple homicide that occurred last week.  I knew that I wanted to  write something about it, but it seems silly to just write the cold facts or to pull all the news articles together in a list.  The other night at church it became a little more clear.

David’s message was about peace, reconciliation, and community from Ephesians 2:11-22.  The middle of the passage verses 14-18 really fit well with the week’s events.

For he [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Brief Rundown

On Wednesday night one or two men entered Seward Market & Halal Meats (a Somali owned business approximately 2 miles from our house and a few blocks from our church) with the intention of killing at least the man behind the counter.  Unfortunately, his cousin had stopped by to chat and bring him tea.  Before it was over 3 men had been shot and killed in the peaceful store.  The Somali employee (owner?), his cousin, and an Oromo shopper were all killed for no clear reason.

Seward is a fairly peaceful community with about every possible type of diversity.  A large East African population melded with a Scandinavian population with everyone else thrown together.  Much has been done to keep the neighborhood safe and prosperous.  By all accounts the Seward Market was a stable small business with an engaged owner and peaceful employees.

On Thursday night a candlelight vigil was held on the corner of the street and many (some estimate up to 300) people stopped by, standing against violence.  This was by far one of the largest gatherings I’ve attended or even heard about where Somali community members and non-Somali neighbors gathered and mingled together.  It was a time to honor the dead, build peace, and community.

The investigation continues and a memorial fund has been setup for the victims families (details).

My Thoughts

Murder is never good.  It is what we do with the murder than can change lives and hopefully prevent future murders. In the past year or so, there has been an increase in violence within the Somali community and while no one has officially said so, it is rumored to be almost all along traditional clan lines.  Most people will say that many of those clan barriers have been broken down, but it isn’t always lived out in day to day life.  Mosques and Somali markets are still segregated along clan lines and there are credible rumors that this recent murder occurred at least in part as a reaction to violence that recently occurred in Somalia.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a diverse community come together to celebrate Peace, Shalom, Nabad, or Selam.  It was goose-bumpy feeling to have people chanting for peace, in their own languages and then together in Somali, while standing at the scene of a crime.   But true peace is hard.  For peace to occur there has to be a surrender of some sort and that is never easy.  We are called to by peace makers and lovers of our neighbors.

I believe that true peace can only come through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:7 says: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   We can pray for peace in our community and we can take action for peace (including sharing Christ’s love). But we must also not forget the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

One way to fight for peace is to fight for justice.  We need to fight to make sure that our East African neighbors feel at home in our neighborhoods.  We need to help them learn English, we need to build bridges so we can understand their culture and they ours.  We need to provide opportunities for their children to recieve a high quality education. We need to make sure their children have safe places to play and learn.  We need to help them find gainful employment.  We need to support their small  businesses.  We need to humble our arrogant selves.  We need to befriend all of our neighbors.

This will bring about justice and peace.

By now, the Twin Cities should realize that we won’t have peace on our streets until there is peace in Somalia (and other places where our refugees come from). It is becoming increasingly clearer that to some degree that even though Somalia and the Twin Cities are thousands of miles apart, they are tightly connected.  For peace and justice on our streets there needs to be peace and justice on the streets of Mogadishu, Hargase, and all of Somalia.

I leave you with these three news articles:

This Star-Tribune article features an interview with a man from our church.

MPR does a great job of reporting, including some subtle mentions of issues in Somalia.

The MinnPost does a “Daily Glean” of news sources on major topics from the day.  Their glean from Thursday includes a Tweet and Twitpic from me at the vigil. Plus, they have the best headline: “A triple homicide becomes a story about communities.”

Update: Since I first started writing this on Saturday, two 17 year old boys have been arrested in connection to the murder.  While this is good news, so that justice may prevail.  Their ages add another layer of tragedy to the situation.  I hope that their motives will be expressed and made clear so that this doesn’t have to happen anymore.

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Is it possible to have both peace and justice at the same time? Yes, but not always.

We have some great historical examples of where peace reigned and justice prevailed. Tragically, there are probably more examples of when this didn’t occur.

The most recent and relevant is related to Sudan and the ongoing extermination of the Darfuri people.

What are Peace & Justice?

PeaceFor our purposes, peace is a freedom from civil disturbance a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom or a state or period of mutual concord between governments as in a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity. (Webster)

Justiceis the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness and equity. (Wikipedia)

So in the case of Darfur, peace would be the absence of conflict, improved security and safety around refugee camps, and a return of the refugees to their original homes without a fear of violence.  Justice would be the prosecution and imprisonment of individuals involved in illegal activities, such as rape, murder, pillaging, arson, and other similar atrocities.

Advocates around the world have been actively seeking a combination of the two to occur in the Texas sized province of Darfur in Western Sudan.  However, at times their actions and advocacy have not always aligned with the best interests of the refugees and aid workers.  I am just as guilty as the next advocate in this instance.  We have been advocating for peace since 2003 and haven’t had any real success in that regard.

Governments around the world took action… but failed the people of Darfur with their token responses.  We send peacekeepers without proper equipment, underfund them, and understaff them – setting them up for failure yet again.  What is the purpose of documenting atrocities instead of preventing them?  Yes, you must document a crime to prosecute it… but how many must die in the process?

In the past few weeks the International Criminal Court issued an indictment for the President of Sudan.  The first time such an indictment has been issued for a sitting head of state.  It may also be the first time that it is clearly a head of state allowing crimes against humanity and war crimes to occur.  Read more at the ICC’s Darfur Page.

This indictment was a clear step toward justice and holding an individual accountable for the actions they knowingly allowed to occur.  The debate in many circles is… was that a wise move?

I don’t know claim to know everything but there definitely are some problems related to this.  Everyone knew that after the indictment all the humanitarian aid workers would be either kicked out or harrased and that came to pass.  Everyone also knew that the indictment is almost impossible to enforce – Sudan and many of its closest allies are not signators (nor is the US) on the charter of the ICC.  This means that we and they have no responsibility to act on its warrants.  The president is fairly safe to travel around within those countries without risking arrest.  It is almost impossible to arrest him in Sudan because he has popular support within the capital and much of north Sudan.

So why go after justice knowing that it will be hard to serve and create everything but peace? I agree it should give Darfuri people hope that ultimately justice will be served and their death and suffering will be vindicated.  I can’t imagine that will mean much as they continue to suffer each day.

Jim Wallis gives a clear account of what has happened since the ICC indictment:

Over the past few weeks, 13 international humanitarian organizations have been expelled from Sudan at the dictate of Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan. These actions came soon after the International Criminal Court handed down an indictment of al-Bashir and issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. As a result, 1.1 million Darfuris are without food, 1.5 million without health care, and more than 1 million without access to clean drinking water. If there was any doubt as to whether or not he was truly acting in the best interest of his people, his use of food and water as weapons of war show that he just does not care about the people of Darfur.

and continues

With the expulsion of these humanitarian organizations, al-Bashir has shown that he has no interest in the well-being of the people of Darfur or in bringing piece. These actions show that once again there comes a time when a political leader has so violated standards of international law and morality that he should no longer be treated as a sovereign, even in his own country, but as a criminal. Actions like this show that he should no longer be president, but prosecuted and brought to justice like the international fugitive of the law he now is. If he was serious about peace and progress, the first thing he should do is welcome the aid organizations back into his country, and without that he has ensured that this warrant will be pursued.

There is no doubt that if we continue to watch there will be neither peace nor justice.  We must act for both. Hoping and praying that somewhere along the way somebody with power will stand up and say ENOUGH and take immediate action that will end the pain and suffering of millions of innocent children, women, and men.

Other good reads include

ICC Not as stupid as the cynics may have thought

If Not Peace, Then Justice

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