Preface -- 1988 :::
If we are truly committed to the work of peacemaking, eventually we
come up against a hard truth -- our goal is not immediately at hand. Part
of this awakening comes when we see that working for peace is not
separate from working for justice, or human rights, or protection of the
earth. The deeper we delve into peacemaking, the greater is our task.
To be peacemakers, then, we must be “in for the long haul.” We
must learn how to sustain ourselves, so that our work can be fruitful
over an extended period of time -- even a lifetime. One of the essential
ingredients for such longevity is the support of other people.
We need a place where we can get emotional and spiritual support
for the personal struggles which arise in our peace and justice work.
We need mutual consultants, who help to create compelling visions and
bring them into concrete form. We need allies with whom we have
formed passionate bonds.
New social forms have recently emerged for this purpose.
Sometimes they are called “support groups,” or “affinity groups.” They
can exist over many years, or they maybe formed just for a specific
project or action. They may meet only once a month, or even less
frequently, or they may meet every week. Depending on the situation,
they may even meet every day, or live together for a time.
In the liberation movements of Latin America, a particular type of
ongoing support group has sprung up, known as “base community” (or
in Spanish, communidad del base). In these base communities there is a
very strong focus on spiritual resources as a powerful foundation for
extended commitment to political action. In the Latin American
context, such communities have a Christian orientation, since this is the
background of the people, and of their culture. This is true also in the
Philippines, where base communities played an important role in the
nonviolent revolution which ousted the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
Gene Knudsen-Hoffman, a longtime peaceworker and member of
the Interhelp network, believes that base communities could also be a
significant contribution to building peace communities in the United
States. This booklet suggests one possible way to begin building a
Spiritual Base community in your city or town.