There comes a day in our childhood when we pick up a stick. It helps us to feel just a little braver. But, like any gateway drug, the effect has diminishing returns, and we progress to sharper, harder, more sophisticated weapons. Words. Behaviours. Until everyone is on edge, and it only takes a spark to set off a powder keg.
Peace asks us to decommission our arsenal. To return words to their healing, life-giving potency. To beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning-hooks. To let fallen sticks lie, in peace.
This, too, is learned behaviour. Takes time. Change, by degree.
The best way to begin to deactivate our weapons is to stay curious. The simple principle of imagining, what could this sword be repurposed as? Hmm, might it become a ploughshare? Or, in concrete practice, the discipline of asking, when someone says something that raises our early-warning systems, ‘Oh? What makes you say that?’ and, ‘Oh. What makes me respond to you this way?’ The former question helps us understand where the other is coming from, map terrain together, perhaps find common ground. The latter question—which perhaps should be the first?—helps us understand our inner geography, those thick layers of neighbourhood we cherish, the helpful and harmful histories that live within us.
‘Peace be with you.’ ‘And also with you.’
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