Comparing research reported by the Pew Research Center (Jan. 3, 2019), Our World in Data website and other credible sources, figuring out the trends of stress, conflict and violence in our world and the much sought-after peace everyone wants becomes confusing. However, it seems form my observations that the following are commonly held as true:
- World War 2 took more lives than any other war in history since 1400.
- After the mid-1990s, Europe has experienced a period of astounding peace
- Death as a result of battles is declining quickly, and has done so for the last few decades
- Wars and conflicts overall are becoming less-deadly
- Statistics need to be understood in light of what kind of conflict we’re describing; example, the Korean war (2 countries in conflict) vs the Rwandan Genocide (2 people-groups within one country) puts numbers in perspective
- Conflict between individuals are increasing as conflict between people groups decrease
What does this say about our world? Do these trends indicate that we live in more peaceful times and as such, peace is something we are achieving but don’t realize? This is the sticky part. The answer is nebulous as we can say both “yes” and “no” to what we learn from data.
Yes, we are becoming more peaceful to some extent. Between States, Countries, Continents, wars are down; even between people groups, we are finding fewer, if not less deadly in numbers percentage-wise, conflicts.
No, violence is not decreasing significantly if analyzed as what individuals do to individuals (domestic violence) or small groups do to small groups (gangs). One recent medical research report showed that in 1000 cases analyzed, almost ⅓ of all abuse done to children was done BY children. Domestic violence as reported in 2018 was reported by more than 10 million USA women and men, but there seems to exist a lack of awareness or response in the religious community. Narcissism is a serious mental illness which has reached epidemic numbers in western countries and 1 out of 3 Evangelical pastors show disturbing signs of this destructive disorder. According to a 2018 report found on Comparitech, a total number of reports for cyberbullying has increased worldwide
What does all this have to do with us? I’d suggest, the peace that we seek starts with us from an individual perspective. If we truly do want the Miss America Pageant line, “I want world peace”, to come true for others and ourselves, taking a good look inside and taking responsibility for the resultant choices we make is a first step toward resolving this world of stress and conflict. If I want to feel peace, know peace and have my children grow up in a world of peace, I need to look in a mirror and at myself first.
How do I go about it? In over 30 years of counseling, teaching and being a wife/mom, I find 4 areas worthy of personal inventory that could help us strive toward being the peacemaker God calls us to be. As Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God”. (KJV, NIV)
These four areas are Awareness, Adversity, Acceptance and Action. Coming this Monday, we here at Teachable Moments have created a 28-day, 5-minute-a-day personal challenge called, Pursuing Peace. We cover in these 4 weeks our first two spheres of influence, Awareness and Adversity. We have put countless hours and research into bringing together the key issues that impact how we can pursue peace in our stressed-out world, thinking through key concepts from a theological worldview, pulling from scripture, theologians, biographies, authors and other notable sources and all with a dash of fun. All for you!
Dear Reader, I desire for you a life that embodies Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (NIV) I look forward to preparing my heart and mind to think about how my own self-awareness and my perspective and response to adversity can create in me the feeling of peace and stillness my soul desires as well as a deeper relationship with God who holds for me a peace that passes my common comprehension. I hope you join me!
Blessings Abundant and always fondly yours, Elizabeth