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Melissa Tade

Melissa Tade: Faith Formation Director at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Olympia WA

Interviewed by Coleen Hogan
May 2012

    You think of peace as the absence of something; the absence of war, the absence of violence, the absence of conflict. But I think peace is more about the presence of something, and scripturally the meaning of peace is wholeness and completeness. So that’s what peace is. You’re never going to erase conflict from life and wars and all those things you want to get rid of thinking, then you are going to find peace. But if you create a completeness, a wholeness of sorts within yourself, then you can find peace in the midst of conflict.
    Globally I still think it’s the same concept, but with more community and a broader sense of peace I think it has to do with exclusivity. So if I think I have all the answers and I think everyone should be like me and I’m the plumb line for how life should be, then that creates conflict. That works in the community and that works globally. If the United States thinks they have all the answers then we’re going to try and force that on other countries. If a religion thinks they have all the answers then that creates exclusivity. I’m in and you’re out and I’m right and you’re wrong. And I think that creates problems. In that context I think peace would mean living in harmony. Living in our differences, living with people and knowing they don’t think the same way.
    In my work through the church I like to encourage critical thinking and I try to expose people to different religions, different opinions, different lifestyles, and different ways of thinking. I think that’s a big thing, trying to push people outside their comfort zones just enough. No so much that it’s scary but enough that people can be challenged. Through things like the multi-faith journey and the multi-worship journey our groups encounter new people and ideas, some of which conflict with the way we think. In those situations the question becomes how do you live in that tension in a peaceful way? How do you go into it? Do you go in trying to change the other person? No, you go in trying to understand the other person.
        I think people need to sit down with each other and learn about each other to gain respect and that softens the edges. When we become exclusive and keep ourselves to ourselves and never feel challenged, then we have this perception that we have it all figured out. And then when somebody comes in with something different and threatens that we become very defensive and that creates conflict.
    The most important step people can take towards peace is to listen. You need to step outside the box and listen, and I think really figuring out who you are and becoming more secure in who you are. You need to be ok with who you are and have that figured out, but not with walls that mean nothing can come in. That way you can listen and you also have something to offer.
    My faith has influenced my view on peace and I love looking at words of scripture because so often we pollute them and make them into different things. I love looking at the meaning of the words in the Biblical language. Going back to the meaning of the word “peace” as wholeness and completeness, it’s also the meaning of the word perfect. Perfection and peace are supposed to be the same, so where do you find that? The unconditional love through Christ. And when looking at peace we need to think about ourselves less and be more willing and open to showing that love to others.