Nicolae Tanase: Rev. John, what is the meaning of life?
Rev. John Dear: I always thought that the meaning of life was to live in peace and love, and I mean, totally, in peace and love, all the time, toward everyone and everything, from now on. We go through life making peace with ourselves, making peace with every human being, with all creatures, all creation, the universe and the God of peace. We love every human being on the planet unconditionally, nonviolently. We practice universal, nonviolent love. We discover that God is a God of peace and love and we become who we were created to be — the sons and daughters of the God of peace and love.
But given the dozens of wars, the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, the corporate greed, the racism and sexism, the tortures and executions, the destruction of the environment — I think with Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., that the meaning of life, the purpose of life, the fulfillment of life — requirements active loving nonviolence. We have to be nonviolent to ourselves, nonviolent to every human being, nonviolent toward all creatures and all creation, and join the global grassroots movements of nonviolence to work for the abolition of war, poverty, hunger, executions, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, to welcome a new world of nonviolence, the reign of God on earth.
Every religion espouses nonviolence. Every saint and peacemaker in history taught nonviolence. As Gandhi wrote, nonviolence is the height of conscious living. It’s the meaning of life.
My hope and prayer is that we can all become nonviolent, renounce violence, resist the wars and systems of violence, and work for a new world of nonviolence. It’s the greatest thing we can do with our lives, the greatest service we can offer, the greatest legacy we can leave behind.
May we fulfill our humanity by becoming people of nonviolence, and live the fullness of peace, love and life!
~Rev. John Dear is a long time peace activist, priest, and author of 30 books. He has been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
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