Peace Matters

National War Memorial, Wellington
National War Memorial Wellington

It’s time N.Z. concentrated again on peace, not war!

This month the Kapiti Independent is proud to initiate a new feature — a regular ‘Peace Matters’ column.

We feel it’s importance to stress the positive values of peace when news is dominated by reports of horrible conflects around the world.

Here’s the first column, written by Shirley Murray, of Raumati, a worker for peace whose poems and hymns have established an international following.

Why not a ‘Peace Museum’ for the Capital?

By Shirley Murray

This month, the subject of the proposed ‘War and Conflict Museum’ in the old National Museum building, familiar to many of us, has sparked reaction in the DomPost.

One letter (June 9) concerns the name – do we want such a title?

Another (June 12) pertinently refers to the philosophy implicit in the setting up of this.

Sir Peter Jackson and Michael Houlihan (‘special advisor on military history’) who are curating the WW1 Te Papa exhibition for Anzac Day 2015, are quoted as planning to replicate the Quinn’s Post trench, which will, according to them “bring home the detail and grain of unimaginable horror”.

This writer, Margaret Cochran of Thorndon, goes on to ask: “Would Houlihan and Jackson have the same interest in replicating, in the proposed new Museum, Te Whiti’s stand at Parihaka?”

So, are we happy to call this a ‘War and Conflict’ Museum and emphasise  the horror, or  imprint our hopes for a better world with  “Peace Museum”?

My own take on this is to recall the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated in the cause

of peace in El Salvador:

Peace is not the product of terror or fear.

            Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.

            Peace is not the silent result of violent oppression.

            Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all

             for the good of all.

            Peace is dynamism.

            Peace is generosity.

            It is right and it is duty.”

From Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated in the cause of peace,

‘The Violence of Love’ 1988

With these words as framework, here is a song:

Peace is generosity,

peace is right and duty,

not diminishment of life

but its zest and beauty,

not the silence of the dead

nor the tears of grieving

but dynamic of a world

rich beyond believing.

Peace is not the child of fear

nor what terror teaches,

peace is quick to give and serve

where compassion reaches;

not oppression in return,

grudges unforgiven,

but the good of all for all

and the gift of heaven.


© Shirley Erena Murray

                                                                          Published with music in “A Place at the Table”                                                

                                                                                  Available in Kapiti libraries