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Excerpted from Living Peace by John Dear. Copyright 2001 by John Dear. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Such true self-love is not selfishness, egotism, or narcissism, but wholeness, even holiness."

  John Dear, Living Peace, Part 3

Even though Mitch espoused justice and nonviolence eloquently on behalf of the most disenfranchised people in the nation, he could not maintain that same spirit of nonviolence toward himself, and the violence inside him literally destroyed him. His death challenged many of us who knew him to reexamine our own commitments and the violence within us, and to cultivate peace within, even as we continue to work actively for peace and justice.

"Love your neighbors as you love yourselves," Jesus tells us. As we love and accept ourselves, we will find strength to love others, and to love God, who loved us first. As we make peace with ourselves, we can learn to make peace with others. Such true self-love is not selfishness, egotism, or narcissism, but wholeness, even holiness. First, we humbly accept our brokenness, our weakness, our limitations, our frailty and vulnerability, and our dependence on God. We accept our failures and forgive ourselves for our mistakes. Then, we accept the living God who dwells within us, and allow God's peace to make her home within us. Making peace with ourselves is like building an inner house of peace and welcoming the God of peace to dwell there forever.

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips," St. Francis of Assisi advised, "be careful to have it even more fully in your heart." St. Francis put down his sword, took up the life of peace, found his heart disarmed, and started serving the poor. Everywhere he went, he proclaimed the good news of peace and people would flock to hear him, just to be in his presence, because he radiated peace.

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