“Anderson’s a wimp!”
My ears are burning, tears wetting my cheeks. I look over to my brother, Mark. He seems to feel the same.
We are in a cabin tent, listening to another scout ranting. But he isn’t talking about me, or my brother. No, this angry young man is mocking my father, behind his back.
I don’t know what event or action brought this judgement from my fellow teen, but I do know my response: Walk away. Choose the path of nonviolence. As my father taught me, over and again. Do not fight. Turn the other cheek.
It’s likely that the boy was upset by my father’s non-traditional masculinity. How he talked about nonviolence, peace, scripture. Maybe displayed this in interacting with other adult scout leaders on this particular camping trip. Pretty wimpy stuff.
I’ve thought of this event, years later, wondering if I should have stood up, defended my father. But that’s not what he would have wanted me to do.
Mark and I walked out of the tent. Silently. Didn’t talk about this either, perhaps ever. But we chose the path of peace. Later, my father would tell me this boy was beaten regularly by his father with a belt. No wonder such anger, such hurt. Compassion and forgiveness became obvious.
Over the past week reminiscing about my late father, I keep coming back to his role as peacemaker. He practiced what he preached. “What would Jesus do?” Protested war, stood up for the down trodden, opposed discrimination, lived a life of courage and conviction.
Our family home was called the “House of An”, a tradition carried on from my father’s parents. While educational missionaries in Shanghai the received a transliteration of the name Anderson as “An-di-fan”, meaning house of tranquility. The Chinese symbol of An has adorned family Christmas cars, letters, a patio mosaic in McMinnville and a stained glass window my father made for the cob Kiva.
Peacemaking is not a passive role. Sometimes it means walking away from a fight, like Mark and I did so many years ago. Other times, it requires action, as in civil rights protests, political acts to protect the environment, testimony of faith and conviction. And the call to peace is now more urgent than ever before.
My father carried the yoke of peacemaker through his long life. And I see how each of his sons has picked up where he left off. Including this one. I’m proud to be my father’s son, to walk in his footsteps.