What a preposterous notion; wild beasts, carnivores sitting with their natural prey without devouring them and a baby petting a leopard who seems to like it. Edward Hicks, the man who found his spiritual home among Quakers who are known for advocating peace not war, portrays just such a preposterous concept in his collection of paintings.
I loved these paintings long before I learned about the artist. I wondered what inspired Edward Hicks. A devout Quaker, his inspiration came from the Scriptures, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11 unfolds the Peaceable Kingdom.
I remember learning about Quaker attitudes toward violence from the movie, Friendly Persuasion I watch it every time it is shown on TMC. The acting performance of Antony Hopkins adds to the movie’s appeal.
Today, we are surrounded by pictures of violence. You cannot avoid seeing violence committed against men women and children shown in every media. We may have become jaded or perhaps we tune it out. Yet, we long for a peaceful world. How can we bring it about? Is there anything we as individuals can do to stop the tidal wave of violence in far off place in our communities and in our homes? In 1661, George Fox, made his declaration against wars and strife to Charles II. His declaration is known as the Peace Testimony. He is reported to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Quakers and people holding to non-violence look to Jesus at the time of his arrest when one of his companions cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, He said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Quakers and many Christians do not believe in taking up the “sword”. Read more about it here: http://www.quaker.org/peaceweb/pdecla07.html. See more about Quakers and peace
I am awed by one woman’s effort to stop violence in her community. She saw children captured and forced to become soldiers, her neighbors raped, violence and brutality destroying her community and she acted to change the course of history in her Liberia. That woman is Leymah Gbowee a social worker, she began a movement with other women by praying and signing in a fish market. Leymah Gbowee was able to bring about a change in her community. I am captivated by these brave courageous women. Surely they were lead by Spirit to Pray the Devil Back to Hell Learn more about this movement here Pray the Devil Back to Hell
I am inspired by all the men and women of peace. But I am confused by the events a few Sundays ago when Pope Francis delivered a message from his window The fate of the Doves of Peace is in doubt. In the company of two children, he urged a peaceful resolution to the violent clashes between protesters and police in the Ukraine. He released two doves, long held as symbols of peace, above the crowds. The two doves were attacked by a seagull and large black crow. The shocking incident recorded by many, went viral. It is not natural for human beings to live in peace and harmony.
Peace must be chosen over violence over and over again. Lions and leopards cannot stop hunting smaller animals. It is how they survive. We human beings do not have to devour each other. Killing, brutalizing, raping terrorizing another human being or condoning and supporting such behavior is a choice for evil. Perhaps the women in Liberia have the answer; praying the devil back to hell. Praying for peace, living peacefully begins with me, with my words and my actions with the choices I make every day. What do you say?