The suggested topic of the week—peace—is an interesting one. I particularly liked the quote from Dorothy Thompson, that when most people speak of peace, "They have not wanted peace at all; they have wanted to be spared war—as though the absence of war was the same as peace." I suspect that most people don't really think much about peace, they just know they don't like to be afraid or think about death—but suicides and domestic violence show us that escaping combat is not the same as having peace. A life of purpose and meaning and friends can be bearable in a land at war, while a life without these things can be intolerable even when there is no external fighting.
I believe that the peace we should aim for is personal peace. I don't mean just that nice sense of inner calm that comes from meditating somewhere away from any other people, and therefore away from interpersonal conflict (not that internal conflict isn't just as bad), but the type of peace that the Apostle Paul mentioned when he wrote, "In so far as it is possible, live at peace with everyone." That, of course, is connected to the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself. If you consider everyone else to be potentially valuable, and not simple something that stands between you and what you want, it is much easier to live at peace with those around you. As C.S. Lewis wrote, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously."
If it were possible to get to a place where everyone aimed for inner peace, loving your neighbor as yourself, and taking each other seriously, suicide, domestic violence, and even war would vanish. Given human nature, however, I don't see this happening on anything other than a very limited personal level. Each of us needs to be responsbile for our own peace and try to love our neighbors, but I think to expect this on a worldwide scale is folly. What we should seek is personal peace and public freedom—freedom to pursue our own peace, and freedom to protect ourselves from those who would destroy our peace (this can include anything from protecting borders to leaving a domestic abuse situation). A writer once noted that it is peaceful (that is, no fighting) in a concentration camp, but without freedom, how does one enjoy the absence of fighting?
Causes Cynthia Clampitt Supports
Feed the Hungry, Project Angel Tree, Wheels for the World, Feed the Poor