People do not always hear the voices of peace from history
“Peace is like a cherished soul
The First Peace was more precious than gold
Peace is not as elusive as it appears to be
It has your name and mine marked: ‘Sweet Victory’”
Like the songwriter’s insightful lament, “Love don’t come easy.” Well, neither does peace.
Seemingly, peace is the most misunderstood word in every language. Most people agree that peace brings happiness, so why do so many reject it? Peace promises stability. Why then do many work to destabilize it? Have you ever asked yourself, “What does peace mean to me?”
To some, it means maintaining law and order through force, and to others, through nonviolent actions. Then there are those who live in peace and worship a higher power. From these challenging counterpoints we learn that peace means different things to different people. Is it any wonder peace seems so elusive?
Possibly, the following thoughts about peace will help build bridges and close gaps that emphasize differences but marginalize similarities that could improve the process.
Black Elk, a strident believer in the power of peace, lived from 1863 to 1950, a time of modernization. Nevertheless, he held an ancient belief in a First Peace given to the human race by the Great Spirit: Peace is the innate good within every soul. He believed the higher power created a First Peace and imbued it with omnipresent, universal power. He said, “The First Peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” Black Elk spoke of an indwelling, omnipresent peace that is always available to all people in every relationship through the world and universe.
Millions throughout the world profess to believe in such a peace and a higher power that some identify as God. This is the foundational cornerstone of many religions, yet belief does not seem to be enough to manifest peace in our personal lives — even within the same family. In addition, there are predators, those who war against peace and peacemakers at all times. Their actions create chaos. Their motives are greed, hatred, jealousy, backbiting and even murder if it means getting what they want. Peace is not the center of their universe.
Andre Gide said, “It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.” Violent behavior and “getting even” (revenge) are lifted up and promoted above peaceful behavior — especially today. The songwriting husband-and-wife team of Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller wrote “Let there be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me” in 1955. They made an inspired commitment to the peace process when they wrote: “Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now!”
So, how can we overcome our differences and build on our similarities? Our daily actions are the key. We can learn to visualize peace by cultivating peaceful thoughts throughout the day. We can only continue to live in this world by utilizing the natural tools we already have to support our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Know that peace requires self-sacrifice. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt affirmed, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
Malcolm X had something else to add: “You cannot separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” This is a clue that freedom supersedes peace.
Now, let us examine the role of law and order in the peace process. Law and order are necessary functions in a civil society and it should function in a lawful manner. We need protectors of the peace in order to live in a civil society. When citizens witness unbiased judgment, communities should become more peaceful.
Peace has been a topic of conversation and treaties. So important is the need and desire for peace that it has become a universal narrative flowing into the annuals of recorded history. Although peace may look elusive, it is not.
The highlighted peacemakers in this story believed in peace. They all made sacrifices. Malcolm X and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lost their lives seeking peace because Malcolm stated that without freedom there is no peace.
The struggle for peace is a double-edge sword. Of the voices for peace appearing in this story, none of them gave up — and neither should we.
Contact Alicia Dhanifu at firstname.lastname@example.org