How do we know what peace is unless we know what peace isn’t? —Rev. Toni Boehm
This quote from the “Deconstructing Conflict” article (page 30, by Annie Scholl) is important because it posits a seemingly self-evident question. The value of peace matters to us insomuch as we understand the importance of it—or living without it. Having once lived in Hawaii—where every day was 80 degrees and sunny, I misplaced my understanding of the concept “beautiful day.” Every day was beautiful, so the specialness of the meaning was lost; there was nothing contrary to measure against. So, too, if we are lucky to live a life untouched by strife, we don’t think about the concept—or reality—of peace. But not all are so fortunate.
Even though we are blessed in America with not having suffered a full-out war on our shores in more than 150 years, there are still many environments inside our borders that suffer conflict. Some are in neighborhoods and some are around our dinner tables. Whether conflict exists between nations or siblings, the nature of our relationship to it—and how much we let it affect us—is determined by us. We can choose to embrace conflict or choose another path. As Annie’s article informs us, we have the tools to manage how we react to conflict, how we can avoid engaging it, and how our lives are improved when we understand the drivers behind our reactions.
Nonviolence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.—Mahatma Gandhi
Even though it often seems that we can’t personally mitigate conflict, the reality is that we can create peace through individual acts of understanding and forgiveness—all artifacts of the heart.
Throughout this season of gifting and sharing, we each have the positive spirit within us to demonstrate patience, support and honest caring for everyone around us—yes, even difficult-to-get-along-with family members. We can use our love and joy for life to overcome irrational emotions that reside in all of us.
You’ve heard that you don’t truly know another person until you’ve walked in their shoes. So simple a truth, yet we often forget the value of that short missive. Seeing life through another person’s eyes opens up a whole new world of understanding. If you believe that one single act of kindness can change the outcome of a major event—as you’ll read in Victor Parachin’s wonderful article about “The Carol That Stopped a War”(page 18)—then you know that anything is possible.
Mike Joseph, Publisher