Fighting for Peace

It is a fight for peace, but a fight all the same.  Like all fights, it is ferocious, rampaging, and endlessly wounding.  Unlike most other fights, however, it is thoughtful, merciful, and endlessly hopeful.  I remain as bruised as any soldier, but I am a warrior of the heart.

 

One cannot tell a peace worker merely by reviewing their resume.  Nor do their physical traits give it away.  There is no uniform and there is no standardized license for practice.  The motives behind peace work reside much deeper.  Very few will be able to offer a more thoughtful response beyond “I just want to make the world a better place”.  Altruism reigns supreme as the Reason behind Peace Studies, but altruism cannot be reality in a world occupied by humans and their very human tendencies.

 

Peace work is often incestuous and predicated on the half-baked theories of a few men, most of whom have lost touch with reality in its simplest forms.  Sure, suffering and injustice are widespread and abhorrable; but peace work does not take enough time to celebrate the glory and justice of the world, unless it can somehow claim it as its own.  People die everyday, children are starving, bombs are decimating ethnicities, and there is a hole in the sky where God used to be.  But people also laugh, and fall in love, and jump in puddles, and enjoy food, and engage in deep philosophy… everyday.  Happy people are not the enemy.  The bellicose ignorance of capitalism is not the root cause of all discontent, nor is it the apex of human happiness.  The world is not so simply composed of the oppressed, miserable sufferers, and bloated, selfish, oppressors.  And we must be mindful that we strip away people’s power on both sides when we set up reality in this man vs. man conflict paradigm.  What happened to the balance?  Peace studies, as value-based as it is, is not critical of itself.  It has little academic theory holding it together and it wavers on the same basic motives as any other endeavour: glory, greed, self-preservation, and self-righteousness.  This is not to say that peace workers are involved in negative things, just that we need to be more honest about why we do peace work. 

 

It is remarkably easy to map a conflict and discuss peaceful solutions.  So why do we face so many barriers when we actually put our work into practice?  Certainly, many powerful people are not interested in peace as it disturbs their status quo.  Then there are those who have just not been enlightened and do not realize they want peace.  But isn’t there a corner in every heart that knows peace is a pipe dream, that life is a mash-up of joy and suffering, and that violence can sometimes be the greatest cure for an aching heart?  Or am I alone in this?  It would not be so terrible if I were; what would be terrible is if my colleagues were to censor me for feeling this way.

 

So why do I fight for peace?  What makes me a warrior of the heart?  Simple:  I am psychologically tortured.  My head and heart, twisted with scary premonitions of hate and glory, needs to struggle to approach equilibrium.  I do know I want to contribute, a vital quality shared by all activists and advocates.  But I cannot say that I want a world without suffering because then where do I go?  I am by nature a sufferer, and I do not want to negate my history or the history of the world (with all its hate and glory) for lollipops and rainbows.

 

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