Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict was written by Patrick O. Mason and J. David Pulsipher. The premise of the book may seem obvious at first glance, it’s a book about peace, but to stop there would be discounting the incredible message that Mason and Pulsipher convey in their writing. Principles from this book have stuck with me, caused me to ponder, and more importantly, they caused me to act.
One of the concepts that is so powerful is the way they lay the foundation for peace in teaching about love. They start by using Doctrine and Covenants 121:41 in a way I hadn’t ever considered before.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeignedDoctrine and Covenants 121:31
In short, lasting change only comes about when our actions and responses are loving. That doesn’t mean they are passive, but that they are not contentious. Using examples from familiar scripture stories, we then get to see how it is only through love that change becomes long lasting. This quote, from the end of chapter three, hints at some of the incredible stuff in there:
Power and influence can be obtained in multiple ways, but the can be maintained only according to princilpes that engender mutual trust, assent, and ultimately love. Conflict is inevitable in this life … How we respond to that conflict will impact not only our own lives but potentially generations to comep. 65
These principles have me rethinking so much about how I treat others. Although I’ve heard about the importance of love and empathy my whole life, the framework this book uses to teach how important they are struck me in a whole new way. I am doing my best to apply what I learned to my relationships, my teaching, and all my interactions with others. If I want to make a difference in this world, it has to be founded in love or it will be fleeting.
Of course, the book recognizes that using love to create peace won’t be easy. As the scripture above teaches, using love as a peacekeeping solution also requires long-suffering. We have to be patient, we have to be dedicated to our purpose, and we have to be willing to sacrifice.
Love is not guaranteed to work. Then again, neither is violence. Violence often fails to achieve its goals, and yet we keep coming back to it. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that despite thousands of years of practice we either have not mastered the technique or have not found the right combination of lethal force to always attain our objectives. Conversely, as soon as love – in the form of forbearance, forgiveness, reconciliation, persuasion, negotiation, meditation, diplomacy, and nonviolent resistance – doesn’t produce immediately desirable outcomes, we tend to toss it aside for something “stronger.”p. 119
I am having a difficult time conveying how much I loved the book. Typically in my book reviews I sprinkle principles of the book with personal stories or insights. I found myself struggling to do this in the review of this book, not because it wasn’t impactful, but because it has sunk so deep into my soul that I am having trouble articulating what an impact it has had on me. I have gained insights that helped me with my relationships, my temple worship, my job, my teaching, and my parenting. How can I convey that in a few short paragraphs?
There are some aspects of this book that forced me to hold a mirror up to myself and confront aspects of my thinking and culture that aren’t easy for me to address. It is messy work, but I want to become the kind of peace maker and peace keeper I read about in these pages. I can see the potential for how loving, but active, peace will help me become more Christlike. It’s going to be hard, and I’m going to make mistakes, but I am motivated and excited to try!