The Virtue of Patience

Posted on: April 17th, 2013
I have been thinking a lot about the virtue of patience, especially in light of those who work for peace and justice. Patience, in traditional Christian parlance, is a virtue, and for the first time, I understand why. Senator George Mitchell came to speak at Loyola last week to close out our 3-event celebration of the landmark papal encyclical, Pacem in terris. Senator Mitchell, renowned for his work on the peace accords in Northern Ireland, noted that most of his job as a peace negotiator during those two years that led to the Good Friday Accords was all about patience: sometimes patiently waiting out those who were obstructionists, but mostly patiently listening to everyone, to all sides of the conflict. He told me afterward while walking out together that he said this is the key to international peace, this patient accompaniment of all sides before trying to solve things. It meant presence, too, not quick shuttling between continents but really living in the reality of the conflict. It built up a lot of trust among the competing players involved.
Looking at the global stage, I realize now more than ever that this is what we need in the Middle East, this kind of patient presence, patient listening. Shuttle diplomacy has proven to be a good starting place but, in the end, has proven ineffective. Presence, trust, patience. That is what is missing.

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