Last week’s episode of the podcast, “On Being” was a conversation with Rami Nashashibi and Lucas Johnson about reconciliation and love as a force for good in the world. It was wonderful and I highly recommend it.
Today, I want to draw on a bit of a tangental aspect of their conversation. They mentioned a man I’d never heard of: A. J. Muste.
Muste was the founder of IFOR the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and worked with many other after seeing the horrors of the two World Wars to consider thinking of peace as something you wage.
I wanted to share this brief story and quote about his life that was Lucas Johnson shared in the podcast, but I’m going to borrow this retelling from Spirituality and Practice:
Once a reporter asked him, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” A.J. Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.”
For him freedom of conscience was a determining factor in the quality of life. Perhaps his most famous quotation is — “There is no way to peace, peace itself being the way.”
I think the conversation with Johnson and Nashashibi really puts into perspective what “the way of peace” looks like in concrete terms, but I thought this example was important. Sometimes, the problems of the world are hard to face, and it seems futile to even try to face them. But, we don’t necessarily do it to change the world, but for ourselves. And that, after all, is where all change comes from.