When We Choose the Way of Peace
When We Choose The Way Of Peace
Jim and Jane decided that Sundays were special days on the farm. When they got awake in the morning everything was very quiet. The sun seemed brighter; the birds sang more sweetly. There were no tractors in the fields and no trucks on the road, because in the little community where Grandfather and Grandmother lived everyone kept Sunday. Most of the people went to church too, and this was strange because in the city where Jim and Jane lived they saw people doing many things on Sunday.
They enjoyed Sunday school at the big country church but sometimes they became very tired during the long sermon.
“Brother Quinter does preach a long time,” said Jane one Sunday as they were coming home. “I thought he’d never get through today. And he used some very big words. I tried to listen to the sermon but it wasn’t any use. I just couldn’t keep up.”
“Same here,” said Jim. “I wish he’d cut his sermons down on Sunday morning when it’s as hot as it is today.”
“Brother Quinter does seem to forget that there are boys and girls in the congregation sometimes,” said Grandmother. “There are so many things that he wants to say to the big folks. He really likes all the boys and girls, I am sure, and I know he is glad that you are there.”
“Are we going to have company today?” Jane asked. Very often someone went home from church with her grandparents. They seemed to love to entertain their friends, and Jane was never sure when there might be company.
“No,” Grandmother smiled, “we’ll just entertain ourselves today and eat our fried chicken without anyone to help us. It is so hot that I’m afraid I don’t want to cook very much. There is ice cream in the freezer, and I fried the chicken this morning. We’ll make lemonade and have some salad. Will that be enough?”
Jim and Jane exchanged smiles. “You always have more than enough,” said Jane. “That sounds wonderful.”
When lunch was over Jim and Jane went out on the shady side of the porch where the big walnut tree kept it cook all afternoon. Soon Grandfather came out and sat down to read the Gospel Messenger. It was so hot that the twins didn’t even think about asking him to take a hike with them.
“I wish David would have come along with us,” said Jim. “I asked him, but his big brother, Mack, is at home and they were invited out to his uncle’s home for dinner today.” Jim sat thinking for a minute about his conversation with David that morning. Suddenly he turned to his grandfather.
“What’s a pacifist, Grandfather?” he asked. “David said that Mack in twenty-five but he is still in college because he was in Europe in Brethren Volunteer Service for several years. When I asked whether that was part of the army David said that Mack is a pacifist and that’s why he went into Volunteer Service. I didn’t have time to ask him what a pacifist is. Is a pacifist someone special?”
Grandfather laid his paper down and turned to Jim. “Yes, Jim,” he said, “I would say that he is someone special. But there are many people in the world who don’t think so. You see, this is the way it is: There are fellows like Mack who feel that it is wrong to go to war and kill other people. They want to do something good in the world instead of bringing sadness, death, and destruction such as war brings.
So, they look for ways to do something else. Sometimes the government will agree to let them serve by meeting human need in some way. A few draft boards were not so considerate during World War II. The men who were in charge here decided that Brother Quinter’s son, Ralph, ought to agree to go to the army; and when he refused they put him in prison.”
“What?” said Jim. “Do you mean that the pastor’s son was actually in jail?”
“You must remember, Jim,” said Grandfather, “that it isn’t being in jail that is bad. It’s the things that people do which cause them to be sent there. Ralph Quinter didn’t go to jail because he was a criminal but because he was strong enough to stand for something which he thought was right. Later they decided that he could go to a civilian public service camp where there were many other people doing work that was helpful instead of harmful.”
“Were they all pacifists?” asked Jane.
“Yes,” answered Grandfather. “They all objected to war because of some reason. Some of them were from other churches. The Church of the Brethren is called a pacifist church because we have always believed that war is wrong; but there are people in other churches who believe that too. They went to the camp, just as Ralph did.”
Jim came over and sat down by Grandfather on the glider. “What do you think, Grandfather?” he asked. “Do you think war is wrong? Do you think everyone ought to be a pacifist?”
Grandfather smiled. “I think that if everyone would really study the teachings of Jesus, and love other people as He taught, they would have to be pacifists. Then, of course, we would trust other people and like them well enough that we would never want to hurt them, and that would mean that there wouldn’t be any war in the world at all.”
“Didn’t some people think that Ralph was yellow when he didn’t go to the army after he was drafted?” asked Jim.
“Yes. He had a very hard time. Even some of the people in the church thought that we ought to do what the government said. I told you a minute ago that the Church of the Brethren is a pacifist church. That doesn’t mean that everyone in it is a pacifist. It just means that when the church was started that was one of the teachings and it still is. As a result, a great many people in the church believe that war is wrong and they think that we should love everyone. I wish that everyone would believe that way.”
“I can’t decide whether it would work or not,” said Jim slowly. “Many of the fellows in my room in school have brothers or dads in the army or in the navy or marines. They seem to think they are wonderful. After all, when people are our enemies, if we don’t kill them they will kill us. What can we do about that?”
“Well,” said Grandfather, “we have to go back always to what Jesus said. He said that we should overcome evil with good, that we should love our enemies, turn the other cheek, go the second mile. As I see it, we just can’t practice those teachings and agree to pick up a gun and shoot someone who we call our enemy. You see, most of the people in the world have never really tried Jesus’ way of working together. There re a few people in every country who believe in it, but the leaders of our country are afraid to try it out or they don’t believe it will work.”
“I wish that they would try it. I wish that all of the world would study what Jesus taught and try to practice what He told them to do,” said Jane. “A Russian girl from a D.P. (Displaced Persons) family came to our school and all of the girls said ugly things about her. One day I remembered that Jesus said, ‘Be ye kind,’ and I decided to help her all I could and be kind and see whether the things that the other girls said about her were true. We are very good friends now, and some of the other girls have decided too that she is nice.”
“That’s a good way to begin,” said Grandfather. “People who are really pacifists and who want to live the way that Jesus taught are kind to everyone they meet. They do not worry about the color of the skin or about what country people came from. They try to be friends instead. I believe that if enough boys and girls learn to do the kind of thing that you were doing for the Russian girl, Jane, we may have a peaceful world sometime.”
“I hope so,” said Jim. “I think I want to be a doctor, when I grow up. I want to help all kinds of people and make them well and happy.”
“Just as Daddy does – and as Jesus did,” said Jane softly.
Book by Dessie R. Miller, illustrated by Harry Durkee,
Learning the Brethren way with Jim and Jane.
Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House, 1951. Chapter 10, Pages 48-53.