Peace Beyond Pacifism

Painting #18 from the exhibit, Nude Truths: An Odyssey in Poetry, Painting, and Prose created by Kristi Ylvisaker, painter, Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen, prose writer and using lines of poetry written by Denise Levertov. Used with permission of Zion Publishing.

Written By Matt Guynn, Director of Organizing for On Earth Peace, for the 2020 Spring Newsletter, in response to the OEP Value Positive Peace.


The poet Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen writes, “Peace pleads for redefinition: From non-violence to robust creativity.  From the absence of war to the presence of compassion, cooperation, and collaboration.”  If all wars ceased tomorrow - if all police forces were demilitarized - if all armed forces in the world disappeared - there would still be systemic injustice and interpersonal conflict everywhere. 

Along with Nilsen’s writings, the Kingian Nonviolence approach (which On Earth Peace learns and teaches) asserts that pacifist non-hyphen-violence is ultimately only aspirin for the world’s problems and not the antidote for violence and injustice. On Earth Peace has claimed Positive Peace as one of our core values. Positive peace builds on and presses beyond pacifism - all war is sin - toward creative engagement with underlying causes of the problems we face. Anti-war and anti-violence pacifism is a good place to be rooted, but I suggest that pacifism must mature to prepare for involvement with the world. This requires values of compassion, informed by a fearless analysis of justice and oppression, and equipped by skills in conflict transformation and active nonviolence. 

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Finding Jesus in Our Community

Written by Jennifer Keeney Scarr, On Earth Peace Board Member, pastor of the Trotwood Church of the Brethren in Ohio and reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Barrancabermeja, Colombia for the OEP Spring Newsletter. In response to the OEP value Jesus-Centered Spirituality.

Jesus is our teacher, our brother, our faithful friend. 

Jesus is where our inspiration for peacebuilding holds it’s foundation. 

Jesus is our center. 


One of the most captivating stories about Jesus in the scriptures is the one often celebrated on Palm Sunday. Very publicly and loudly, Jesus marched into Jerusalem on the eve of Passover, a commemoration of the Jewish liberation from the bondage of slavery under Pharaoh. The Jews of Jesus’ time resonated deeply with this powerful story of their ancestors as they lived under the oppressive occupation in Rome. They longed for another Moses, a Messiah who would deliver them from Rome as  Moses delivered them from Pharaoh. As Christians, we believe that Jesus was that Messiah. His method of salvation wasn’t the violent military victory expected but a daily commitment to kindness and compassion toward the overlooked and under-valued. To illustrate the kind of Messiah he would be, Jesus threw together a D.I.Y. nonviolent protest. With his people waving branches, and a donkey to carry him, Jesus marched into the heart of Jerusalem’s prestige and power. He identified the injustice of the system before him, illustrated by the tables upon tables of vendors and religious elites taking advantage of low-income people, travelers, and foreigners. Anger burned in Jesus’ belly and in a mighty symbolic, nonviolent act, he turned the tables over, upending the harmful systems at play if only for a day. With this action, he grabbed the attention of everyone in the courts and then began to teach another way of living. 

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Diverse Book Finder

Having diverse characters in children’s books is important because it allows children to reflect on their own identity and develop empathy for others. For the Read Aloud Project, we have made a concerted effort to read books with diverse characters. Examples of books we have read include We Are A Rainbow by Nancy Tabor, Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio, The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio and Queen Rania of Jordan, Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, and The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. As the project carries on, I continue to look for books to recommend to volunteers. This led me to attend an EmbraceRace webinar titled “Choosing Good Picture Books Featuring Black, Indigenous and People of Color Characters."

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Read Aloud Project

The Read Aloud Project was created by Priscilla Weddle and Marie Benner-Rhoades to provide homeschooling resources in peace and justice during the pandemic. For the project, members of the community record themselves reading children’s books about peace, courage and justice. The response from the community has been great and we appreciate those who have participated. We have decided to extend the project through June. If you are interested in recording a video for the project, please email Here are the books that have been read for the project so far:


The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper

Summary: This book tells us about the Golden Rule, which is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A grandfather explains to his grandson what the Golden Rule means and answers all his questions about the rule.
Reflective Question: How have you practiced the Golden Rule?

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Internship Highlight: Social Media Intern, Tabatha Lanning!


Tabby is the social media intern for On Earth Peace, meaning that she handles the posting, scheduling, communication, and data collection endeavors associated with OEP’s social media. “I also spend a good amount of time responding to people or directing people to the person who can best answer their questions,” Tabby explained. Though her work with OEP is seldom a highlighted piece itself, Tabby prides herself in being one of the go-to people when something needs to get spread far and wide. “My job is to make sure everyone at OEP has a spotlight if they want it!” As a recent graduate, Tabby looks forward to her daily work with OEP and the new adventures that she and her fellow interns might virtually embark on; “Interacting with all the other interns is my favorite part of my job!” Aside from OEP, Tabby also loves animals and is a big music junky! “Fun fact,” she furthered, “I also write a lot of poetry!”

Every exciting Facebook post, Twitter tweet, or Instagram picture means Tabby has been working her magic behind the scenes to make it a reality. Thank you, Tabby for all of your hard work keeping OEP strong and proud!

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