Peace is the essential component of community
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
The past week's horrific events have plagued our weeping world with feelings of fear, despair, revenge and hate. I was greatly encouraged, therefore, to receive the following e-mail from one of our local coffee companions:
Kay's letter reminded me of the word for "peace" in the Stoney Nakoda language spoken at Morley. It's the word oyade [o-YAH-day].
Now, I've never heard the word used as a greeting, but it does have something important to say about our world's current state of affairs.
You see, oyade is the kind of peace that exists among people when they live in a respectful, trusting relationship with one another.
And so, oyade has another, closely related meaning: "city." Thus, an oyade ("city") is a large community where people live together in a relationship of oyade ("peace").
To use Kay's words, the ideal community of people is one where the "ripple effect" of trust and mutual respect shapes the quality of life for the good.
In my role as a Scripture and linguistics consultant, I remember a discussion that went on among the Stoney Bible translation team involving this word.
It was back about 1970. The six interpreters from Morley were working through the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke.
When they came to the angelic words to the shepherds, they debated at length whether to translate "peace on earth" with oyade, or with a phrase that refers to living together without fear.
You see, it was clear to the team that there could be no peace among people if they lived in fear and distrust of each other.
All of which highlights the importance of something another of our Cochrane coffee companions said to me the other night about the answer to terrorism and war.
David Sweeney pointed his finger at his heart and said, "The answer lies in here, inside each one of us."
At the close of the Second World War, Gen. Douglas MacArthur spoke similarly:
Which brings me back to Kay's letter and her son's longing for peace. Let me conclude with The Prayer of St. Francis, suggested by e-mail coffee companion Leanne Forest, of Edmonton:
© 2001 Warren Harbeck