Tag Archives: peaceful

Making Peace

The internet is full of things that will make you angry. Right now, someone is desecrating that which you hold most sacred. Someone is spouting rubbish so unbearable that you will think it dangerous. We can choose to seek out opportunities to be offended and upset, or we can choose to avoid them. In our personal lives, we can choose to dwell on wrongs committed against us, or we can tune them out. We can forgive, or not. At first glance the acts of ignoring would seem like the ones most likely to engender a sense of inner peace. I don’t think this is so. There’s a process to undertake here, and there are balances to strike.

Ignoring wrongs very simply condones them and facilitates their continuing. Turning a blind eye may assist our equilibrium in the short term, but if we are truly being abused in some way – be that by those around us, government bodies, institutionalised prejudice and the like, ignoring won’t fix it or make it go away. Usually the reverse happens. To get to a point of peace it is often necessary to tackle any external sources of difficulty. Sometimes the only option we have is to move away from the source of the problem, but this isn’t always peace-inducing. Leaving a festering pool of wrongness and pollution behind may well create in you a legacy of wondering what was harmed next, or whether it spread. The peace of knowing the problem is truly resolved, is like no other. The future is lining up a few opportunities for me to tackle aspects of my past. I mean to make the best use of them that I can. I want peace, and I want specifically the kind of peace that comes from having sorted things out and done the right things.

When confronting a wrong, it’s important to consider just how wrong it is, and whether it is, really speaking, your problem. If there is litter chocking the stream near your house, then there is something you can do. If atheists fill you with irrational rage, then maybe seeking out the places where atheists go on line in order to keep telling them what the afterlife is going to do to them, isn’t the best idea. There is a difference between tangible harm – being harassed, attacked, showered with chemical poisons from a factory, and taking offence at something someone else does. It’s that old if you don’t like thinking about what gay guys do, just don’t think about it, solution.

It gets tricky at this point because of course certain schools of thinking will understand certain kinds of behaviour as being dangerous and wrong. Someone less liberal than you may consider you dangerous. Part of the problem here is that fundamentalists of all hues (religious, atheist, scientific, political…) often have the belief that they are entitled or required to try and change you for your own good. If we could just let go of that notion of entitlement and requirement, we could solve a lot of problems. By all means, put your version out there, but if others reject it, you are not responsible for that. It is not your job to force it down the throats of the unwilling.

So where do we go with the people for whom climate change is a belief they don’t agree with, not an established fact? And if we say that the voice of sanity must prevail here, how do we handle it when the drug companies demand, claiming the voice of sanity, that all those quack medicines be taken off the market? (for which read herbal remedies and anything they aren’t getting paid for.) In my experience the majority of swords turn out to be double edged.

Sometimes, the answer is not to look outside and blame others for what causes us to feel angry, threatened or mistreated. Sometimes the answer was inside all along. Why should a straight person feel angry and threatened by gay marriage, for example? Work on the inside would be a better approach there for seeking peace. But the other side of the sword lops bits off us instead. If you are being bullied and you start to imagine that the problem is inside you (not an unusual reaction, I gather) then what you do is internalise the bullying, swallow the blame, and there is no hope for peace in that scenario, not without radical change.

True peace requires integrity and self awareness. It requires recognition as to whether the change needs to happen inside us, or outside. To find it, we have to be more interested in getting things right than merely appearing to be right. We have to be willing to change, to let go, to see with new eyes. We need compassionate thinking, both for ourselves and for others. That, I think, is the key. True peace is compassionate. If you are fighting for peace, if you are angry, what you get will not bring peace. Only compassion can do that, and in trying to find a right way through, compassion is your most reliable guide.

The challenges of peace

I’ve never been interested in the kind of peace that comes from burying your head in the sand, or from accepting oppression. These things can look like peace, might even feel like it, but they aren’t true to my Druidic ideals and I try not to go there. That said, there are so many things I cannot fix and have to let go of, because if I took their absence of peace into me, I would go crazy.

It’s one of those curious ironies that the quest for meaningful peace can call for some serious bouts of equilibrium shattering. Steeping way outside my comfort zone seems to be a regular feature. I’ve had a dose of that already today, in the ongoing saga of trying to deal with things between my son and his father. This is not new. I’ve been trying to speak for my son all his life, to explain what he thinks and wants, to support him in getting where he needs to be. For me, this is intrinsic to parenting. How it works, varies, and depends a lot on how people see me. For some I am, or have been, the pushy, demanding mother, over reacting, over emotional, putting my own feelings onto my child and demanding attention through him. I mentioned dark reflections yesterday, and those words have been painfully hard to hear over the years. I’ve heard them from the child’s father, and the child’s father’s girlfriends, from teachers and other professionals. Arguably people who all had something to gain from disbelieving me. But I’ve also found plenty of teachers and other professionals  who recognise my lad, understand how he feels, embrace and celebrate what makes him different, and do everything they can to enable him to flourish. It may not be a coincidence that I’ve never had any negative feedback about me, there.

The teacher who blamed me for my child’s distress belonged to a school that went on to send one boy to a special needs school for his behavioural issues, and did not recognise that the other child in the scenario had autism. He’s since got the much needed diagnosis. Maybe if they’d listened to my concerns rather than telling me I’m hysterical, three families would have had the support they needed, rather than leaving them to struggle unrecognised. Peace comes at a price, and often the price is a willingness to sacrifice peace. I’ve gone off at a tangent a bit here.

It’s very hard remaining peaceful, or working for peaceful outcomes when you are hearing things you do not want to hear. It’s easier to reject the message bearer, devalue or demonise them so that they can be safely ignored. It is not easy to take a good hard look at yourself, question your own motives and assumptions, and consider that you may be the one who got it wrong. Of course, in a scenario where one person will do just that, and the other cannot hear they are less than perfect, there tends to be a resultant culture of blame that has nothing to do with who is right, and everything to do with who is self critical and able to bend. In conflict situations, rare are the times when any of us couldn’t have done a better job, one way or another. Sometimes the better job would have been to leave sooner. There is a kind of peace that can be held by believing that you are never wrong and never need to change, but it’s a fragile, unhealthy peace that takes you further and further from consensus reality.

I wrote some words today. They are not new words. They are variations on words that I’ve been saying for all of my child’s life. This is what he needs, how he feels, what he wants. If those words were listened to, it would serve to help the person I like least in the world. But it would also help the child, and that matters more. The quest to bring peace into his life, brings serious disquiet and challenge into mine. But one day, he will reach the point of being old enough and wise enough not to need me to do this for him, and hopefully by then he’ll have enough of an example about what true peace looks like, what is worth fighting for, what should be forgiven and what is just human, that he can go out there and do a good job of things. Got to be worth a go, that.