A Prayer for Peace in Appalachia

Amid Christmas hymns and Hannukah lights, we ask you to join us in a prayer for peace in Appalachia.

No one who follows events would ask why we need this prayer. Clearly, the climate of political violence escalated in 2009 with these incidents:

• A US Census worker murdered in Kentucky, the word “FED” scrawled across his chest;
• Judy Bonds, Goldman prize winner, slapped at a peaceful demonstration for Marsh Fork Elementary School;
• Signs at demonstrations saying “Hang a Treehugger;”
• Fabricated photos of “environmentalists” as “armed terrorists.”

A prayer for peace in the coalfields might begin with the idea that if our Appalachian ancestors could speak today, they would ask those for whom they sacrificed to lay aside hatred and strife. They would ask us to seek a better future.

A prayer for peace might hope that we learn — as country singer Kathy Mattea has suggested — to speak with love, respect and humility.

A prayer for peace would focus on people, first, but also the wild creatures and the treasured environment of Appalachia. This would follow Aldo Leopold’s concern that ethics should encompass the land as well as the people.

A prayer for peace might have us recalling folk singer John McCutcheon’s song about Christmas in the trenches of World War I, where combatants asked themselves whose family they had fixed in their sights.

A prayer for peace might have us falling on our knees to be guided by the King of Kings—and not “king coal.”

A prayer for peace might conclude with the certainty that our blessings far outweigh our differences, and that none of us can meet our challenges or carry our burdens alone.

May we find the blessings of peace and forgiveness in our hearts, one and all.

AV Mountain border tan1

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