Excerpts from Pope Paul VI to the fledgling UN in 1965 that is just as relevant today as then.
As you know very well, peace is not built merely by means of politics and a balance of power and interests. It is built with the mind, with ideas, with the works of peace.
The edifice you are building does not rest on purely material and terrestrial foundations, for in that case it would be a house built on sand. It rests most of all upon consciences. Yes, the time has come for “conversion,” for personal transformation, for interior renewal.
The appeal to the moral conscience of man has never before been as necessary as it is today, in an age marked by such great human progress. For the danger comes neither from progress nor from science; if these are used well they can, on the contrary, help to solve a great number of the serious problems besetting mankind. The real danger comes from man, who has at his disposal ever more powerful instruments that are as well fitted to bring about ruin as they are to achieve lofty conquests.
To put it in a word, the edifice of modern civilization has to be built on spiritual principles, for they are the only ones capable not only of supporting it, but of shedding light on it and inspiring it. And we are convinced, as you know, that these indispensable principles of higher wisdom cannot rest on anything but faith in God.
It’s a reminder that efforts that reduce problems to just power, politics, money, etc are missing the root of issue and just playing whack-a-mole. Temporal tools like laws, money, and power dynamics are useful in guiding our courses – but unless hearts are changed – these efforts are at best a never ending practice of building sandcastles that are washed down with the next tide.
If you feel that politics can’t find the answer, if laws aren’t the answer, if controlling money or power doesn’t seem to bring peace – then you are right. It is the human heart where peace is made and to be found. Let each human heart seek to be reformed, and the rest will fall into place.
What am I doing this advent to reform my heart – especially with the work of peace?