Give peace a chance?
Wednesday, September 21 marks the 40th anniversary of the first celebration of the International Day of Peace in 1982 and has been designated Peace Week 2022.
I was a child during the tail end of the Vietnam War. I remember seeing it on the television in our living room. I was told the war was happening far away but here it was in my living room before my very own eyes. It didn’t seem that far away to me and it certainly wasn’t far away for the people on the screen.
As a child, I could not comprehend why this was happening. What did the people in Vietnam do to deserve this? I felt confusion, and dread, and was deeply upset. Even after the war supposedly ended i remember there were years of people fleeing – the refugees the news referred to as “boat people”. Why? Why war when peace is clearly so much better?
To a child’s mind, it’s simple and obvious. Peace is better. It’s about getting along together. It’s about “using your words”. And I don’t think it’s that far off. I would add that both peace and war are about how we deal with conflict. Conflict is part of being alive. Everything, everyone is in relationship with everything and everyone else and it’s conflict that offers an invitation to come into greater understanding and into a fuller more coherent relationship. War, whether it’s internal to our mind, body, heart or external in our family and community, is a failure to seek and receive the gift conflict has to offer.
Peace Day, Peace Week, World Peace – these are big ideas. Sign me up! Where do we start? Right here, right now. There’s a Rumi quote: “Yesterday I was clever, So I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself” and so goes for peace. Even if World Peace (in a planetary sense) is not within the spheres of your daily dealings, all peace-building efforts start within ourselves, our families, friends, and communities here and now – by handling conflict, making amends, and reaching out.
Through inquiry and conversation, especially active, present, and committed conversation, peace has the chance to thrive.
If we can commit to remaining in dialogue, act with respect, and earn each other’s trust even in the face of conflict we take on the hard work of eradicating war from our individual lives. If enough of us commit – to seeing conflict as an opportunity to practice peace – we can begin to make war in our collective lives all the more unacceptable.