Faith — Hope — Love. According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, these are the “big three”. Faith and love are terms that call us to do concrete things. A simple definition of faith is, “belief in God and his goodness.” Love is the action component, giving us tangible ways to express that goodness. But what does hope call us to do? Is it, in actuality, just wishful thinking? Are we naïve to hope for aspirations like world peace?
Not at all! This resounding sentiment emerged from a recent “Seeking Friends” adult First Day class at First Friends Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana at which the group grappled with the concept of hope. Here are some thoughts that emerged:
• Hope allows us to deal with imperfection. When reality collides with the image of what isn’t, but should be, hope is born.
• Hope is the basis for all human advancement. It is the precursor that gives us courage to take action.
• Hope is not only intellectual or emotional, it’s visionary. It creates a roadmap for our journey toward a better world.
Hope engages our imagination and allows us to see — and long for — what God’s goodness can do today and in the future. That is why we need Quaker organizations like Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). They give us hope that our faith and love can make a difference in this strife-filled world. FCNL has the courage to say “war is not the answer.” In fact, there are actions we can take to bring the wildly optimistic hope of peace closer to reality.
If you visit the FCNL website and go to the Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict page you will read true-life stories of how hope for a more peaceful world has been a catalyst for real solutions to conflict and violence. Here is an example from the website:
Development (Peru and Ecuador)
For more than 150 years, Peru and Ecuador disputed — and often fought over— their border. In 1998, after a series of failed peace accords, both countries signed the Acta Presidencial de Brasilia, which established Adjacent Zones of Ecological Protection on both sides of the borPerspectivesder.
This new approach used shared biodiversity protection to facilitate bilateral cooperation and post-conflict recovery. In addition to preventing further outbreaks of violent conflict between Peru and Ecuador, the compromise has fostered social, cultural, and economic development of local communities while building their capacity to conserve natural resources.
The United States, along with Brazil, Argentina and Chile agreed to act as “guarantors” of the peace agreement, monitoring and supporting implementation. Since 2001, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed $20 million in development aid to train health professionals, increase access to new business permits, establish mechanisms for identifying human rights abuses, and build a bridge across the Amazon River. The successful peace accord between Peru and Ecuador demonstrates how environmental cooperation and good development can help break cycles of violence and replace competition with cooperation.
The Seeking Friends group has been reading Parker J. Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy. Palmer ends his book with this beautiful quote from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Irony of American History: “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.” Faith, hope and love really are the big three.
Noell Krughoff and her husband Tom are newly appointed FUM representatives to Friends Committee on National Legislation. They attend First Friends Meeting in Indianapolis and live in rural Shelby County, Indiana.