She was Peace Pilgrim. Sick of all the wars and nuclear confrontations, this devoutly religious woman prayed intensely and one night, she felt God’s inspiration
As a result in 1953, Peace gave up her home and surrendered all she owned and began to walk the world for peace. She walked across America nearly seven times, walked all of the Canadian provinces and walked in Mexico.
Peace spoke with people she met, and was quickly invited to speak in churches. As time passed it mushroomed into television, radio and newspaper interviews and other speaking engagements, but always, she also spoke with people one to one she encountered on her journey.
What was Peace’s profound yet simple message? “This is the way of peace – Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.” What makes it profound? Throughout time, mankind has killed and destroyed for peace.
The result has been endless wars and an arms race that now puts us on the brink of extinction. If instead we would seek peace through peaceful, truthful and loving means we could actually attain it, for the ends don’t justify the means, they are the means. One reaps what one sows.
To emphasize her message of peace, Peace lived it in her pilgrimage, as Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi and other prophets had done before her.
Peace believed we are all brethren. Of mankind she said, “I see that divine spark and that’s what I concentrate on. All people look beautiful to me; they look like shining lights to me. I always have the feeling of being thankful for these beautiful people who walk the earth with me.”
Being so approachable, Peace had numerous discussions: “I once said to a woman who believed in war and Christian values: ‘On the one hand you talk about Christian values, on the other hand you say, “Isn’t force the only deterrent they respect?
“This has been our trouble down through the ages --- we have given only lip service to Christian values, and lived by the jungle law of tooth and claw. We have quoted ‘Be not overcome of evil, overcome evil with good,’ and then attempted to overcome evil with more evil, thereby multiplying the evil
“We worship God, but have no faith in the workings of God’s laws of love.”
America’s “war on terror” is an example of this point. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, destroyed families, devastated Iraq, damaged Afghanistan and is draining the U.S. of its moral values and its money
Yet new enemies seem to be everywhere so more soldiers and new weapons are needed, as we seek peace through violent means.
Peace told a memorable story that captures this sad, self-destructive situation. “I met a Jewish woman who had been married and living with her parents in Germany under Hitler at the time of World War ll. She was married when she was sixteen. Her first child was born when she was seventeen and the second when she was eighteen.
“She was nineteen when three things happened to her. The first: her home was destroyed and her parents killed by an English bomb. I guess they thought they were liberating her. The second thing: her husband was taken away by the Nazis, and she assumed he was dead because she never heard from him again.
“The third thing that happened: she was injured and her two small children were killed by an American bomb. When I saw her she was still carrying the effects of the injury. Again we were ‘liberating’ her.
“… She was able to feel compassion and pray for all connected with the situation, the killed and the killer. She was able to maintain such a good attitude that she was befriended by German people, who at risk of their lives, got her to England where she was befriended by the English people, and eventually got to the United States.”
Peace pointed out the incredible triumph of that woman’s spirit but asked, “Who or what was that woman’s enemy? Was it the English who destroyed her home and killed her parents, or the Germans who killed her husband, or the Americans who injured her and killed her two small children?
“The answer is amazingly obvious: it was war that was her real enemy. It was the false belief that violence will accomplish something, that evil can be overcome with more evil. That was her real enemy, and it’s the real enemy of all of mankind.”
For more than 28-years Peace walked her pilgrimage until 1981, when shortly before her 73rd birthday, she was killed in an automobile accident while being driven to a speaking engagement. For Peace, it was “the glorious transition to a freer life.”
In concluding Peace’s story, I’ll leave you with one more of her remarkable insights: “In order to help usher in the golden age we must see the good in people. We must know it is there, no matter how deeply it may be buried.
“Yes, apathy is there and selfishness is there – but good is there also. It is not through judgment that the good can be reached, but through love and faith.
“Pure love is a willingness to give, without a thought of receiving anything in return. Love can save the world from nuclear destruction. Love God: turn to God with receptiveness and responsiveness. Love your fellow human beings: turn to them with friendliness and givingness.
“Make yourself fit to be called a child of God by living the way of love.”