Wednesday Quotes
Peace, The Nurse of Children
September 23, 2015

Children and Appletree

“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

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  1. God grant us the wisdom to recognize the just way and the courage to follow it even when it is a lonely road. I worry very much that our society loses ground in even recognizing what is just, much less pursuing it as a basis for flourishing. This is a good reminder for us. Thanks.

  2. I echo what Malia says.

  3. Malia and Dick, The more of us that think in these terms, the more that youth-nurturing peace will in fact spread through the land. Thanks.

  4. This is true. I have witnessed this in my own family.
    It is very evident in the behavior and action of children what is going on around them and in their lives. Saints are often made in peaceful families the peace reflected in the children, gentle nurture and authoritative guidance brings a full bloom to little humans.
    It WAs the sexual revolution that mixed up moral dispositions and roles and produced what amount to man-children and overly aggressive “independent” women. This reorganization of society helped rob children of their childhood and the pressure of adult responsibility was alleviated through contraception, what maturing was left in young adults was put off, and self-gratification was pushed to the forefront. And now it seems that many families never fully bloom, they ARE cut back spiritually by lack of virtue(the children intuit this it is evident in their behavior), and practically/physically by birth control in all its forms and degrees. Your article about fathers and work in Instaurare (I think this is it) starts to touch on the remedy. Father has to work now in some job away from family and does not have the same time or options to teach his children, (weekends are spent recreating..badly, usually)and yet he can and should include children in work together around the home. The Best weekends our family has are when father does some WORK with the kids for chickens a coop, building or carpentry,learning about engine repair…broken things I am grateful.
    Natural law is also called to mind (is it?) the relationships of the family and what works best on a natural level. At our FSSP parish a wise letter mentioned home life as positive, orderly, and the natural happiness and flexibility of family life.
    Also was it not modernization/ industrialization that displaced large farming families who all of sudden had to learn what to do without the farm, or the apprentice shop…. or a way of life informed by a slower more natural tempo.
    Our culture stifles our nature, as well the laughing and playing of children and the discomfort of our own failings for which justice is allayed through all consuming tv and computer.
    Thank you also for the civil war lecture last week.