For me, the quest for peace, both within and without is a significant part of what Druidry is for. It’s not what we do, it should be where what we do takes us. Harmony in any aspect of life, creates peace. Resolution, restorative justice, understanding and compassion all lead the way to peace as well. The deep contemplative work that has become intrinsic to my daily life enables me to develop understanding, to cultivate inner calm, make my peace with experiences. I’ve learned when to get on the soap-box and shout, as well. The ‘peace’ that comes from ignoring problems, turning a blind eye to injustice and pretending all is well, is no true peace, just a fragile illusion that can be stripped from us at any time. Real inner peace and resilience are realistic things to be cultivating. Peace in the external world is a project that will require everyone to participate. As such, we won’t get there any time soon, but every contribution matters.
I’ve been pondering a lot what to do in the aftermath of conflict. Unconditional forgiveness can be a way of giving people permission to re-offend, so I’m not keen on that. Holding on to anger is not good for the cultivation of inner peace though. I’ve been working on adopting attitudes of pity and compassion that allow me to feel sorry for the other person, where there is unresolved conflict. Functionally, it allows me to be gentle and patient with them, without offering the kind of acceptance that says ‘oh sure, kick me like that any time.’ Tacitly allowing people to mistreat me does no one any good. I suffer, and they do not learn to do any better.
Where the mistake is owned, it’s always a lot easier to move forward. It can be painful, daunting, even humiliating to admit a mistake, and the bigger the error, the more uncomfortable it gets. But, in owning it, it becomes possible to make changes, to ask for guidance and to explore what might have worked better. Of course there are people who will take an apology and use it as a stick to beat you with, but this is not honourable behaviour, it’s aggressive, abusive behaviour. The person who confesses, apologises and is trying to fix things, always deserves the space in which to try and do just that.
I’ve yet to find a conflict situation in which I couldn’t have handled it better. So, even when I feel that on the whole I’m in the right, I’m always looking to see where I could have done a better job, and what I can learn. Just because I think my behaviour isn’t troubling, doesn’t mean, for example, that I can’t push other people’s buttons by accident and cause pain unknowingly. Those lessons I want to learn and those situations need catching, and dealing with. A mistake, based on error or lack of insight is one of those human things, we all do it. The person who won’t look and repeats, is deliberately careless and that’s a whole other thing. There’s always scope to do better. My main area of weakness comes from misunderstanding. I’m sensitive to the nuances of language, and I get into a lot of difficulty with people who use language carelessly and imprecisely, who say what they do not mean, speak ‘off the cuff’. If I could get the hang of spotting those as they happen, I wouldn’t have to mop up after the event, and that would be definite progress.
It’s impossible to make, or hold peace with someone who is always right. Good relationship depends on negotiation, listening, a willingness to compromise and a willingness to seek the solution that works best for everyone. If one person is always right, and everyone else is always wrong, there’s just no space in which to do the essential relationship things. What you have then is tyranny. We all see things differently, have different needs, respond in our own ways and so forth. There is no one right way of being human. Negotiation enables us to find peaceful ways of co-existing. Being right all the time does not.
Just because a thing looks right from my perspective does not make it right for anyone else. If I refuse to consider that I could be wrong, or just not right from another angle, I pass up an opportunity to learn, and grow. To be human is to be less than perfect. Working with a recognition of that can build peace, within and without, but the more right, justified and entitled you think you are, the harder that is to achieve.