“But those who… follow justice… live in a city that blossoms, a city that prospers. Then youth-nurturing peace comes over the land…”
Hesiod, Works and Days
Peace. The very word speaks to a longing in the human heart. Given how much we all desire it, it is strange how little true peace is abroad in our land. Where do we fall short in actually making it happen in our homes and in our communities?
One thinks of the children. Our culture that in many ways is childish is far from child-friendly. So much of our entertainment—often even what is billed as for the ‘family’—actually fosters the moral dispositions that most threaten the young. A glaring instance is the sexual license now proclaimed as sexual freedom. In reality it is one of the most potent destroyers of youthful innocence and peace.
What must we do to make our communities child-friendly? Pope Paul VI famously said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” It seems that Hesiod is thinking along the same lines. Real justice, and its related virtues, cause peace. If as Augustine averred peace is the tranquility of order, then justice is the cornerstone of the elusive order that we need to forge. And there is no justice without supporting virtues such as chastity and courage.
We can judge ourselves in terms of the children. When youth-nurturing peace spreads over the land, the sights and sounds of children playing, in safety and joy, will be all around us. The word ‘adult’ will not by a perverse twist mean that which threatens the very humanity of young and old alike. Rather we adults will be cognizant that our own actions should be judged by whether they nurture children, drawing them toward a peace that is at once beyond them, and for them.
If youth-nurturing peace is to come over our land, it will begin in our own hearts and homes. For the sake of the children.
Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead. It also describes various characteristics of both a troubled time period—Hesiod’s own, and those of a golden age. After three weeks treating the former, this is the final of three Wednesday Quotes devoted to the characteristics of a golden age.
Image:by Elsa Beskow