My definition of peace is tightly intertwined and connected to love. It goes hand in hand, and true peace cannot exist in the absence of love.
Growing up in an active church, fundamental peace and love was learned instinctively. We have all heard the common Christian phrase spoken by Jesus "turn the other cheek". Author and Professor Walter Wink4 cleverly dissects this common phrase in an uncommon way,
"Jesus is not just suggesting that we masochistically let people step all over us. Instead, Jesus is pointing us towards something that imaginatively disarms others".
From experience I have learned that abrasive conflict that lacks objectivity and empathy, just births more hatred and deep seeded conflict.
Wink goes on to explain "when hit on the cheek, turn and look the person in the eye. Do not cower and do not punch back. Make sure they look into your eyes and see your sacred humanity and it will become increasingly harder for them to hurt you".
Personally, I love this quote and winks' description, it shows that Jesus teaches a third way to deal with conflict that eliminates both passivity and violence, and it is neither submission nor assault. Everyone has a "sacred humanity", they are uniquely created. Seeing each person as unique and valuable is the first step to creating peace.
Violent conflict exist because we conceptualize the other person's motives as innately evil or negative, we are so affected by the conflict that we subjectively blind ourselves. By looking at a situation with empathy and objectivity, although it is difficult, could we feel the same seeds of hatred? Realistically, objectivity is easier said than done. Perhaps the truth is that we are all innately evil and selfish, and only our acts of love are the things that make us good.
Walter Winks' quote continues “When someone tries to sue you for your coat on your back and drags you before the court, go ahead and take all your clothes off and hand them over, exposing the sickness of their greed." We can only achieve peace when we choose to make a difference. When we act counter to our impulses and our human nature, people will notice.
The Final piece of Winks' quote pulls all the rest together "when a soldier asks you to walk a mile with them and carry their pack (Roman law/custom) don't throw your fists in the air like a zealot, just walk with them two miles instead of one, talk to them and woo them into our movement by your love."
It is with that love of humanity that we can address all challenges and confrontations. Demonizing the other person in the conflict is pointless unless our intent is to destroy, we must step into the shoes of our enemies and win them over with our love.
1: Larry J. Frisk, Patterns of Conflict- Paths to Peace (Schellenberg, 2008)
2: Who is Adam Curle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Curle (June 2013)
3: University of Waterloo, Instructed by Nathan Funk (https://uwaterloo.ca/peace-conflict-studies/)
4: Walter Wink, The Powers That Be (New York: Doubleday, 1998)
5: Shane Claibourne, The Irresistible Revolution [Living as an ordinary radical] (Zondervan: The Simple Way 2006)