Peace Able

In PeaceAble on August 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I suppose that a blog about peace ought to be written from the position of an enlightened or peaceful life.  It ought to be approached with optimism and hope.  It ought to speak of the author’s own experiences of unconditional love and a life lived according to certain rules of activist pacifism, with credentials from at least one or two of the great peace movements of the author’s lifetime.  If you also suppose these things then this blog may disappoint you, because this is a blog written by an author who claims no special enlightenment or peaceful past; it is written from a place of fear and anger; and it makes no hopeful or optimistic predictions of some great dawning of Aquarian peace on earth.  The author has been moderately active over the years in local movements, studied draft law in a non-credit class in the 70’s, gave a few speeches in town meetings during the nuclear freeze movement, and has always voted for the mainstream candidate who seemed least likely to lead us into Armageddon; but beyond that I can claim no special background or credentials except more than 30 years as a professor of human communication.

This is a journey.  As I write it I am trying to find my way out of anger and fear toward hope.  It is a fundamental premise of this blog that the one great hope for lasting, creative, and universal peace lies in that journey, a journey that each and every person on the planet must make individually, so that we can all make it collectively.  My impression of most of the literature on peace, or perhaps I should say the literature that claims to show how to achieve peace, is that it is primarily about either how the individual can find personal peace in spite of the craziness of the world, or about one prescription or another for the political agenda for peace.  Alongside these we have enormous amounts of ink being expended about a wide range of issues, each proclaiming the absolute necessity of some resolution to the particular conflict if the world is ever to be at peace.  It is also my perception that every one of these books tells the truth, and that the path to peace is paved with all of them, but that ordinary people will read very few of them, and be discouraged or confused or turned away by most of the rest.

The practical questions that I have not seen asked, or answered in any detail, are: “What would a truly peaceful world be like?” and “What would such a world require of me?”  The answers to these questions and some observations about the relationship between peace and our individual and collective choices will be the subject of this blog.

I choose to use the term “peace-able” rather than “peace-full” because I believe that the second cannot be achieved (if it can be achieved at all) until we have achieved the first.  To be peace-able is to be prepared to live one’s life in ways that open the door to peace, rather than create barriers.  To be peace-able is to think about all our choices as leading toward peace or away.  To be peace-able is to understand that there will always be conflict between humans, because there will always be differences in need, in belief, in knowledge, experience, understanding and perspective.  To be peace-able is to understand that we are not perfect.  To be peace-able is to want to make choices in our relationships with others that seek to nurture and support those relationships rather than simply protect ourselves.

To be peace-able requires that we develop some new habits, perhaps some new consciousness, in our daily lives.  We have to develop the habit of asking ourselves each day, “Who do I want to be today?  What do I want my life and my choices to mean to me and to others?”  We have to ask ourselves about our choices. “How does this choice affect the peace-ability of my life and the lives of those around me?  Does it make me feel more or less peaceful, more or less able to engage others in peaceful ways?  Does it seem to generate in myself and others feelings of peacefulness, of acceptance, understanding, gratitude, love, respect?”

To be peace-able means developing what I call “Pre-Forgiveness.”  This is an attitude toward our own and others’ hurtful, unkind, negative behaviors that allows us to more quickly put down the burden of hurt, fear, anger, and judgment; so that we can get on  with the business of living our lives in peace-able ways.

To be peace-able means to think about what we truly do believe about life, about God, about what it means to be human.  And then we must measure our choices against those beliefs as honestly and clearly as we can.

If genuine peace were to suddenly arrive tomorrow, would we be ready for it?  Would we know how to act, how to think?  Would we be able to live our lives in ways that could sustain that peace?  What would it require of us?  What would it look like; feel, taste, smell, and sound like?  These are the questions that I will explore as best I can in these pages.

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