Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Surrender is not in our vocabulary here in the US. It’s a dirty word denoting failure, cowardliness and weakness. In the church the language of “conquering sin” and “victory over death” trumps the word surrender. Even in peacebuilding, so much of the language and skills we promote are for the purpose of asserting our rights or obtaining justice. Not that any of this is wrong or misguided but some balance between victory and surrender is needed. In fact these two are intimately linked in the narratives of many a faith.

My work at peacebuilding, from previous posts, is acknowledged to be both personal and global. For the past number of years I have been an observer of the dynamics of violence. One facet in particular has commanded my attention and that is the addictive nature of violence. My tentative conclusions are from both first-hand and international vantage points. As a peacebuilder I am always looking for tools to assist those addicted to violence.

I stumbled upon the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program and realized that they had discovered a critical first step to making headway against any addiction…surrender. This is not the same as giving up. It is surrender to trying to overcome the addiction through sheer willpower by giving it over to a “higher power.” This surrender to a “higher power” will eventually include the giving up of any resentment, grudges and need for revenge. The AA people have documented these toxic attitudes as impediments to true inner peace. By taking responsibility for our own issues and shifting the burden of change to a “higher power” we will actually tap the ultimate power of the universe. Next time you are up against something seemingly unchangeable, surrender to your “higher power” and let the transformation begin.