Peace, man. Blessed are the peace makers. Peace, out. All we are saying is give peace a chance. Visualize whirled peas. uhm, I mean, world peace.
Words from the hippies. And Jesus. And modern urban contemporary types. And John Lennon. And snarky (uhm, I mean yuppie) bumper stickers. Obviously, the word “peace” is the common denominator for a diverse gathering of people and groups.
Peace is on my mind, right now. Probably more importantly, it’s on my heart now.
Perhaps it is humanities biggest failure. It exists in so many different levels. One of the things that all these different things have in common is that we all claim to want it and yet very few of us can claim to have it.
In the modern era (let’s say about 1600ish to about 1950) we defined things, often, by focusing on what the thing was not. So we defined physical health as the lack of physical illness. We defined mental health as the lack of mental illness. We defined “right” behavior as the avoidance of “bad” things. We defined peace as the lack of war.
In this post modern era, I think that one of the things we are getting right is working on definitions that are more than lists of what a thing isn’t. Physical health is about the possession of stong physical characteristics. Mental health is the attainment of self-actualization. Right behavior is more than just avoiding the “should nots”– to do right, there are things we should do. Peace is more than just the lack of war.
Perhaps it makes the same point differently to say that a society which is militarily peaceful might be unpeaceful in all sorts of other ways. A society might not be in a military, physical war, and it’s citizens might be far from peaceful. Or the citizens might not be at peace.
I think that’s a distinction worth dwelling on: the difference between a person being peaceful and a person being at peace.
A person who is peaceful is a person who wouldn’t use violence to achieve what they want or need. A person who is at peace is a person who is not conflicted: a person who is comfortable with who and where they are… a person who is comfortable in her own skin.
So a person who is peaceful and yet not at peace might be a pacificist. To the outside world, they would appear gentle. And yet, perhaps they would feel intensely about the people who they treat peacefully. Perhaps they hate them. Perhaps they hate themselves for hating them. And yet they do nothing about this hate: Peaceful, but not at peace.
On the other hand, a person might be very violent. But they might be o.k. wit this fact. They might be comfortable with using violence. At peace, and yet not peaceful.
I think the hope I have for myself, and also for you, is that we might live peacefully and be at peace. There is lots more that I think is worth being said, but I think that is a good place to stop, for now: May you live peacefully and bet at peace.