As the world media continues to be dominated by issues of terrorism, territorial conflict and violent discrimination, William Penn University welcomed a guest speaker to tackle, on April 7 the issue and develop peacemaking dialogue on a micro-scale.
Guest speaker, David Wolfe discussed his missionary experience while in the Middle East and issues of cross-cultural faith conflict. “We’re working on the micro level,” Wolfe said regarding his approach to the peacemaking idea.
Wolfe spoke to the campus and community as part of Penn’s annual Beane lecture series. The lecture series was established in 2008 through an endowment by Ercil and Maxine Beane, former Penn graduates in the hopes of developing programs that promote Quaker principles and philosophies.
Wolfe is a devout Quaker and Friends minister and is currently the director of chaplaincy at Salina Regional Health Center in Salina, Kansas.
Wolfe and his wife also served a term of service with the Mennonite Central Committee in Qom, Iraq and other parts of Middle East.
Beane chair holder and instructor of religion at Penn, Mike Moyer chose Wolfe specifically for his association to issues of peacemaking. According to Moyer, this is the sixth Beane lecture. Various topics have been approached but never peacemaking, which is also a central Quaker value.
Moyer said that the topic is one that must be given more relevance.
“Peacemaking is an issue that we have to be working on,” Moyer said.
This was brought to light when while in the Middle East, Wolfe assessed a clear difference between tolerance and peacemaking.
“We’re after understanding folks rather than just saying, you do your things and I do my thing and I don’t need do to anything about you or relate to you. It’s deeper. Reconciliation means bringing people together, it’s a proactive thing,” said Wolfe.
Furthermore, Wolfe said that the fundamental way to peacemaking is through building relationships.
“You have to start by building relationships, trust and [getting] to know people,” said Wolfe.
Moyer added the importance of communication while building relationships.
“We have to be willing to get some dialogue and communication,” Moyer said.
For Moyer, current topics in media raise the importance of communication. Like nuclear power and its possible use as a weapon. Moyer said that this is a concerning issue. This was highlighted in global media when recently, a landmark deal aimed at keeping Iran’s nuclear program peaceful was signed by member countries of the United Nations Security Council, that includes United States, France, China and others.
Having lived in both Iran and Iraq and dealt with issues of religious intolerance, Wolfe saw the need to further relay the importance of reconciliation.
“When you really get to reconcile with people or get to know them as an individual encounters. They would correct me if said something out of line or didn’t reflect on. But [that was possible] because we had relationships,” said Wolfe.
However, in a world filled with conflict and war. Wolfe provides perspective to peace: pick a level.
“Every level matters, choose your level, whether its just people, groups or whether it’s the national level. Decide your calling,” Wolfe said.
For Wolfe and Moyer, dialogue and healthy relations are crucial to promoting peace. Both understand the importance of grassroots solutions to larger issues and the power of dialogue and education.