A Twitter hashtag promoting peace during the World Cup showed up abundantly in my TweetDeck, a tool that allows one to track tweets.
The hashtag was #pauseforpeace.
It was an adept idea launched by the Pontifical Council for Culture, which called for a moment of silence during the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina.
“Sports were born around religious festivities. Sporting events were moments of peace, when wars ceased, as for the Olympic truce. Why not for the World Cup, why not a pause, a moment of silence, a truce for peace?” asked Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and head of the Culture and Sport.
Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council of Culture, tweeted, “A still, small voice of silence” (1 Kings19:12), as he promoted the #pauseforpeace.
The day of the final, Pope Francis spoke to those in St. Peter’s Square, referencing a June gathering of Christian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders who had prayed for “the gift of peace.”
“Someone might think that that encounter may have been in vain. But no! Prayer helps us not let ourselves be defeated by evil or resign ourselves to violence and hatred having the upper hand over dialogue and reconciliation,” the pope said.
He asked for divine help to those of good will to possess “the courage to carry out concrete gestures of building peace.”
“Make us willing to listen to the cries of our fellow citizens, who ask us to transform our weapons into instruments of peace, our fears into confidence and our tensions into forgiveness,” he prayed.
As Pope Francis and other Christians were underscoring peacemaking during the World Cup, some members of the Abrahamic faith traditions had another Twitter hashtag for peace—#hungryforpeace.
“July15 is 17th Tammuz, Jewish fast day; this year it falls in Ramadan. Many Jews & Muslims will fast 4 peace. Christians, let’s join ’em,” tweeted Lynne Hybles, the founder of Ten for Congo, who also has been active supporting Syrian refugees.
Twitter hashtags for peace may well be in the same realm as prayers and sermons for peace—foolishness in the world.
One might see witnessing for peace through tweets, statements and prayers as representative of what it means to be a “fool for Christ’s sake,” a rather anemic alternative to the hard power of missiles, military budgets and habitual use of force.
Yet Jesus chose such “anemia” in his offering of the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5-7) with its proactive peacemaking initiatives.
He spelled out an alternative way in the face of “the reality on the ground.” Perhaps he didn’t want the Roman way to change him.
No doubt, Christian leaders ought to address the hard realities of power. While they do, they remind us through tweets, statements and prayers of a better way—and keep us from being changed by the way that promises more conflict, refugees and hardships.
Twitter—social media—is another way to offer a Christian witness.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.
Robert M. Parham (1953 – 2017) was the founder and executive director of Baptist Center for Ethics from 1991 to 2017. He served as executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, BCE’s website, from its launch in 2002 until 2017.