Today is ANZAC Day. It is a national holiday and arguably Australia's most important holiday. It is a commemoration of all those people who have served our country in war: particularly those who died or who were permanently injured. On this day we honour bravery and sacrifice.
This morning I attended an ANZAC Day march and memorial service in Palmerston. In one part of the ceremony people bring wreaths and lay them at the foot of the memorial. Towards the end of this procession of wreath laying, a man walked forward with, I presume, his three young sons. He was carrying a large sign which said Palmerston Islamic Centre.
Many Muslims have a hard time in Australia. They are a somewhat controversial group of people who suffer from very negative stereotyping which is perpetuated to a large extent by the media. This man's action, in identifying himself as a Muslim, was a brave statement of peace. He was saying to everyone present at the ceremony, that although he is a Muslim, he respects and honours Australian tradition. Most likely he is an Australian citizen. He may have even been born here. In effect he was announcing his love for his country: Australia. I believe this man is a peacemaker.
The values we acknowledge on ANZAC Day are universal values, but I wondered what some of the other people in the crowd thought about this man publicly declaring his religious faith. Many people think religion is the major cause of war. ANZAC Day is not a celebration of war. Most of us want peace, but many people are trouble makers rather than peacemakers. The Bible says we should do everything we can to make peace, and to live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) On the surface this looks challenging, perhaps even impossible, but in our spheres of influence we can make a difference. We can be peacemakers.
Being a peacemaker requires action: courage, sacrifice and humility. Lots of people talk about peace, but few do anything to make peace. This man's actions at the ANZAC service this morning inspired me to redouble my efforts to be a peacemaker. By sharing this, I hope to inspire at least some of my readers.