cjp_logoYesterday I received an email from Daryl Byler, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University. EMU is a place I have studied and will continue to study issues of trauma, restorative justice, conflict resolution, and other subjects, with an overall focus on building Peace. Daryl’s message, on behalf of the faculty and staff of the CJP, moved me deeply. Having studied in May with friends and peacebuilders from Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Haiti and elsewhere, Daryl’s message touches my heart, and the hearts of many friends around the world. I share his words here with my friends in the hope that we will all redouble our efforts to build peace… everywhere.

The faculty and staff at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding are deeply concerned about the growing number of volatile and violent situations around the world — including Afghanistan, Central America, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and the U.S.-Mexican border. In some cases, the violence is destabilizing entire regions, uprooting thousands of people and creating large-scale humanitarian crises.

Knowing that U.S. policy has been a contributing factor in many of these conflicts, we also commit to raise these concerns with our elected officials and to engage in educational conversations with family and friends who are not aware of the root causes of these struggles. We welcome feedback from graduates on the ground as to what messages are most important to communicate.

With regard to the current crisis in Gaza, we grieve all loss of life and add our voice to those calling upon all involved parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire and opening of Gaza’s borders so that humanitarian aid and medical assistance can reach those who have been impacted. We also endorse Amnesty International’s campaign calling on the United Nations to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and Palestinian armed groups, with the aim of preventing further serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.

We are grateful for all in the CJP family — graduates as well as SPI and STAR alumni — who are courageously working against long odds to build just, sustainable and peaceful communities. We are holding you in our prayers and commit to supporting your work in as many ways as we can.