A word from Superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria ISD

Closing thoughts: Peace

A word from superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

Recently, a very dear friend and pastor here in Victoria shared a book with me. The book, “Living Toward A Vision,” written by Walter Brueggemann is a biblical reflection on the word “Shalom” which most people recognize as “peace.” Wikipedia says, “Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.” I was inspired after reading the book and wrote to Dr. Brueggemann with gratitude and with a wonderful question. He responded with great kindness, as you might imagine.

In the text, Bruggemann posits you could divide a group into two categories. He does not write about the size of the group, and he does not tell us how to define the group, and as I have reflected further this group could be as small as a family or as large as the world. This could be a business group, a social group, or a community group. It really does not matter. The size of the group will matter as a frame for what comes next though so I would like for you to take a moment and think of a group to which you belong. Picture the people in this group and get a few of them in your mind.

Now divide the group into these two categories, “already” and “not yet.” Let that concept just sink in for a minute. You have total authority to decide what this means. Maybe we are thinking about financial well-being. Perhaps we are thinking about emotional well-being. We could be thinking about education levels. We could be thinking about student achievement in the classroom. Bruggemann leaves it for us to figure out how we are going to define already and not yet, and that was a brilliant move by the author. He is inviting us to think about already and not yet spiritually, but it opens the door to thinking about success broadly and then considers those who have already attained that success and those who have not yet reached it.

Here is where it gets fascinating. What does peace mean to the people in these two groups? This question completely disrupted and dislocated my thinking. Peace for someone who is already there is completely different from peace for those who aren’t. Peace is, without a doubt, not the same for everyone. Peace for the already is more about keeping, maintaining, and not disrupting. Peace for the not yet is a wish for what is to come or what might be. This has deep implications on how we view justice as well. Justice is simply a mandate to ensure the well-being of the not yet. Maybe this isn’t profound for you, but it was for me. My definition of peace cannot be implied on another unless my definition of
peace compassionately embraces their definition as well. You have all read several times about my beliefs on compassionate leadership as “suffering with” and this is a big reason the text connected so deeply with me, I think.

Heading into the Holiday Season, I have a new frame of mind when I wish you all great peace over the
holidays and in the coming year. I sincerely hope you are able to keep that which you have received and attain
that which you desire.

By  Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.