I get very tired of the ‘peace’ thing. I mean, who really believes in peace? Who really is committed to it? Everybody seems to jump off the bus at some point: phooey with peace, enough already; what else can we talk about. I get discouraged.
I know that peace is the most essential ingredient to human survival. But there’s no context in which you can mention this without it sounding like, well, a nice thought but not really relevant to the conversation. Jane believes in peace. Great. Next?
I know that there’s not going to be any peaceful coexistence of human beings unless individuals and communities know how to be peaceful in themselves and live that peace in the presence of others. Most people seem to believe that peace depends on “the other person/people” being peaceful and hopefully seeing things the way you do. This is bogus. You have to learn to be peaceful in the midst of people so different from you that it’s hard to believe you’re the same species.
Peace is about “life,” not “way of life.” This is very difficult for many people to accept. Peace is about survival, survival for all of us. Peace is not about your preferred values, preferences, income level, access to goods and services. Peace is about all of us living well. With enough; enough to sustain all of us.
Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it? Sounds like work, sounds like loss of this and that, sounds dreary and not worth it. Peace is work; peace is loss of this and that, peace can be dreary. But if you believe that peace is essential to survival, if not for your then for people you care about down the road, maybe it’s worth getting into.
Why should you believe peace is essential? Well, a whole lot of important people have believed it to be essential; but moving along, what so far is working to keep the human race alive? War? Trashing the planet – from sea to sky? Having everything ‘your way’? Being rich? Are you safe in who you are, how you live, what you want for you, your family and your friends? Maybe other people? Not really is the honest answer for most.
So. Peace. What is peace, that you should invest any of your life on earth in such a thing? For starters, peace is real. It is held in the air you breathe, or better put, peace holds the air you breathe. You breathe peace in and out. You cannot live without it, just the way you cannot live without air. Start using the word peace for air. You’ll experience the intimacy and closeness of it all.
Your life is invested in peace, the way it is invested in air. The commitment must be the same. If you live where there is very dirty air, you must take precautions for the air you breathe to be clean. If you live where there is no peace, you must take precautions to see that the peace you breathe is clean. The good news is that peace comes with a filter. You don’t have to wear a mask or stay inside. You can walk among the human race, among creation.
If your most important job is to breathe, your most important job is peace. When you breathe peace and commit to this understanding, you become peace. Your interest in anger subsides; your willingness to adjust your lifestyle so that all others are included becomes active and real. Your move from too much to enough begins; your move from too little to enough begins too. You are alive, you are slow, you are peace. What will the world look life as you live your peace? Beautiful, holy and enough.
Jane Lee Wolfe is a parishioner of St. James-Woodstock, Vt. and Director of Bog Chapel, Inc., an educational not-for-profit organization that focuses on the spiritual health and spiritual fitness of human beings, from youth through old age.