Following the Path of Peace
Fr. Amado Picardal, CSsR
I. My Personal Journey
The early 70s was for me a time of awakening to the reality of poverty and injustice in our society. I became involved with Lakasdiwa – a Democratic Socialist youth movement that promoted Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha – the non-violent means to transform society.
Martial Law was declared our group in
After my release from prison I was in contact with the Democratic Socialist party who had by then formed an armed group. During my years of studying for priesthood, I became more convinced that armed struggle was the only means for changing society.
After my ordination I lost touch with the SocDems. Most of my contacts were the NatDems. In fact, the NDF head and the NPA commander in Lanao were my friends whom I occasionally met. After my mother was killed by military men in December 1985, I went through a crisis of faith and vocation. I began thinking of the possibility of leaving the priesthood and joining the armed struggle.
But in February 1986, the EDSA I took place. It was a religious experience for me and it proved to me that a peaceful, non-violent means was possible for transforming society.
EDSA I, I worked in
I was working in
I came back to the Philippine in 1995, I spent most of my time teaching. It
was in 2000, as the clashes between the gov’t and the NPA & MILF
escalated, that I cycled for peace across the
My commitment to the way of peace, has been inspired and sustained by the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel, by Mahatma Ghandi’s satyagrah and the writing of Dom Helder Camara.
I firmly believe that the way of peace is the only to stope the spiral of violence. It is the humane way to transform society.
It is clear from our sharing that our commitment to peace did not develop overnight. There is a story behind every commitment. It is like a journey, with its twists and turns.
There is a pattern in our stories. We all started with an awareness of the reality of poverty, injustice, oppression, the division, etc. in our society. We felt we had to do something about it – we wanted to change society. The basic question that confronted us: how do we transform our society?
Many probably started with a pacifist stance. Others already thought that bloody revolution would be necessary.
The Martial Law, led many of us to a position that the only viable means for changing society was through the barrel of the gun – through armed struggle. But others continued to believe that a peaceful, non-violent means was still possible.
The EDSA I has shown many of us that they way of peace is feasible and effective.
The effects of the spiral of violence has made us aware of the senselessness and futility of violence as a means for changing society.
Our commitment to the way of peace is not just based on our repugnance to violence and its effects on us and our people.
It is also based on the moral and spiritual imperatives of our faith (whether Christian or Islam).
For us Christians, we opt for the way of peace because it is the way of Jesus – it is the way the cross, the way which as disciples we are called to follow. Let us listen to the Beatitudes (read the gospel).
The Gospel teaches us to love everyone including our enemies, to do good even when we experience evil and to be compassionate. We are taught not to harbor hatred for others nor to be vindictive. We are called to offer our life in self-sacrifice but not take life. To die for others but not to kill.
This is the only way to overcome evil. This is the only way to stop the spiral of violence.
Thus, we follow Jesus who said: Blessed are the Peace-Makers.
Peace be with you! This is how Jesus addressess his disciples.
We need to experience this peace within ourselves. To experience healing within our selves. To rid ourselves of anger, hatred, and other violent thoughts.
Peace be with you! This is how we Christians address others even those who harbor anger and resentment against us.
Peace is not just the absence of war, it is not just the absence of armed conflict – although it presupposes it. Peace is above all the healing of relationships, of dialogue. It is also development – total human development. As Paul VI tell us: development is the new name of peace.