We can all remember where we were when we heard about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I was walking across campus at Randolph-Macon College. I had an early class that morning and was walking towards the library when I overheard other groups of students talking about the attack. I couldn’t believe it. And truthfully there was a part of me that didn’t believe it. I by-passed the library and went to my car. I turned the radio on and listened with a heavy heart to the news reports of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center buildings.
How could such a thing happen? How could there be so much hate in the world that hundreds of people would be killed?
College students who are freshmen this year were in the first grade when 9/11 happened. The only world they know is this post-9/11 world. A world where war is common. A world where politics are more important than people, no matter what side of the aisle you are on. A world where bullying and school shootings are the norm.
A world filled with violence.
In her book God’s Gift of Love, Donna Schaper writes, “From a world without love and without hope, nothing is possible, expect a repeat of the same injuries.” Injustice breeds injustice. Violence breeds violence. At some point the cycle of hate must stop. But how?
Nelson Mandela is an example of someone who ended the cycle of hate. After being a, at sometimes violent, leader against his government, and being imprisoned, something happened. He changed. When he emerged from his jail cell, he was a different man. A man filled with peace. He led his people to become united and to reconciliation.
Mandela made a difference in many ways, across many countries. And we argue that some of the changes were big and some of the changes were small. But they were changes. And they started within himself. He found peace in himself before he was able to lead others to find peace. Change towards peace does not always have to be by the pound. Change towards peace can be by the ounce. Ounce by ounce through prayer and contemplation, worship and Bible study, scheduled acts of mercy and random acts of kindness, we change ourselves, and make the world around us a better place.
Because love breeds love. Hope breeds hope. Justice breeds justice. And peace breeds peace.