Peace in the context of injustice, racism, sorrow, terror, and struggle requires fortitude and character infused in a deeper personal definition; one that births depth of meaning and action in the otherwise passive and meditative understanding of the word. In times of mass selfishness, hatred, and violence the essence and expectations of peace demand more than serene smiles and calming platitudes sprinkled like glitter sparsely covering conflicts of widening divides.
In reality the magnitude of peace best suited to these times, as defined by serious philosophic, religious, academic understanding and traditions, is not easily achieved. Restorative peace has little use for fleeting, fluffy, or glitter-bombed attitudes. Peace that listens, attends, challenges, protects, and restores with courage and commitment to address the roots of injustice and hate are called upon now. This active and living peace seeks barriers to experiencing itself. Similar to our journey of constant striving for the Ideal of a “Perfect Union” America; it is the ultimate goal, and not the laborious experience we master in generations and moments of development to the beauty of ultimate equality and brotherhood. We are never finished. Peace is evolving, as is our democracy.
“Restorative Peace has little use for fleeting or fluffy or glitter-bombed attitudes.”
Peace examined, redefined, and fortified for ourselves takes away the sting of a weak peace we felt satisfied with, but are not nourished by. Glittery peace cannot possibly endure in its stunted form within our psyches without feeding on itself. If we refuse to feed peace the challenges that we meet in the world to mature, it turns inward to feed. At the same time, we can forgive ourselves for not carrying this thin and crispy peace into a verbal assault online because that is not the appropriate weighted peace for real battles. Building inner inquiry and deeper thoughts about what peace requires of us; we begin to commit to a bolder idea of peace and refine sharper edges in the challenges we exercise. Erring on the sides of rage or apathy along the way to create a foundation and interaction that we own as a peace built uniquly to fit needs in the world for our brother’s good and our souls.
When we redefine what peace is to ourselves we begin to forgive ourselves for clinging to misunderstanding as peace-related ego grips relax. We accept a new definition and bring a focused attention and commitment to achieving a living and active peace better suited to meet the challenges of our times. We begin learning and building an understanding and strength of purpose for peace growth with the weight of patience, love, justice, and honesty infused with courage. We can stop regretting our commitment to an immature peace and stop jamming the square peace logic into the round peace hole. When we let go of insufficient definitions we gain curiosity and the ability to build substantial inner peace that we may weave in our world.
Lasting peace can only be won by addressing difficulties and strife; a gut-wrenching achievement in the midst of conflict, violence, hate or struggle for a fair democracy. Ideological radicalization of white nationalism hate (encouraged by the 2016-2020 administration) drove hate crimes and radicalized white nationalist hate groups to their highst levels recorded. Overall, hate groups rose from 890 to 1020 groups in just 3 short years (See SPLC 2015-2018 Hate map below).
We are called to a higher order of peace-building to protect our neighbors and challenge this hate that threatens them. We are pointing fingers of division about civility online instead of redefining our insufficient understanding of peace. Fuzzy-peace feelings are not involved in serious debate and confrontation of hate rhetoric; confrontation can be an appropriate form of peace. We are dragging a ratty old version of peace into a conversation or confrontation that requires the peace infused with tremendous love and firm will. So we recognize and desire a more fortified version to integrate and we are fortunate to have excellent models from all traditions.
What can we say to our brother about peace while we allow all of this hate, injustice, and violence to grow unchecked at his doorstep? By allowing de-funding of federal prevention dollars for communities to address the rise in radicalization of community members by white nationalist hate groups we provided hate a place to grow unchallenged. Many passively witnessed Charlottesville torch bearers shouting “The Jews will not replace us” and did not firmly and unequivocally demand immediate accountability of leaders who minimized the threats and terror. Murders increased in our temples, synagogues, churches, mosques, and verbal and physical hate crimes grew. Militia attacked or threatened protesters and political leaders in many states including Wisconsin and Michigan, and now our Capitol and democracy herself.
“What can we say to our brother about peace while we allow all this hate, injustice, and violence to grow unchecked at his doorstep?”
What kind of peace do we need now? The Holy Peace of NO! Yet, we continue wringing our hands and debate about civility while hate crimes saw their highest recorded peak in 2019 (SPLC FBI link to report below).
Where is peace in rising hate crime data? Were we in our glittery peaceful places while our neighbors were being radicalized by hate groups online and through mainstream media? Were we singing “build unity and peace” with those who would support in attention, dollars or solidarity white power fundamentalist violence? Did we dribble glitter around hate speech watered-down for palatable consumption for insecure Susie soccer mom or the bully “neutrality” our CEOs? Did we call for a weak peace of injustice? Did we call for unity through the hateful rhetoric and all those violent statistics and tragedies so we could have a “nice Thanksgiving” with publicly accepted hatemongers? Is that our definition of peace?
The increasing violence and support of white nationalist extremism filtered little-by-little through the mainstream as acceptable conservative policy and political talking points has saturated our lives. Balance and truth-seeking were the demands. There is no just balance weighed in hate; nor is there any love, truth, or peace. Peace seeks to understand divisions and to confront and disrupt hate.
When we reflect on peace in this context we wonder if peace is possible and begin to birth a new desire to mature our understanding of an active peace. Am I allowing hateful attacks online to go challenged in my personal spaces or public interactions? Peace redefined may be the only way forward. Our understanding of peace has outgrown the shell and its usefulness in such a tragic way that our definition of peace becomes an obstruction to the very peace itself. Anyone disturbing our very adolescent idea of peace must be contained or rejected as “negative” or “confrontational”. Yet, what goes unchallenged in the name of peace and civility is the very barrier to peace itself.
“Am I allowing hateful attacks online to go challenged in my personal spaces or public interactions?”
Peace grows with us to inform us it must be transformed to meet more challenging days with fortitude, discernment, and hopeful action that bridges a new dawn and a an array of peace in full bloom that has been hard won by not allowing hate to take root in your neighbor and turn him against his own peace.
A maturing peace seeks active service in constantly meeting un-peaceful situations with patience, informed understanding, and a love of truth. CommUnity of No Hate:
Books, films, webinars and online resources from educational institutions, organizations or local libraries help us to understand symbols and rhetoric insuring we are not used by manipulators who sow radicalized hate, and encourage us to correct those who do not understand how they are being used and deceived to stoke violence. Maybe these materials are not “peaceful” to read, but the result of not knowing has violent and divisive consequences for us all. If we understand the history and the challenges, we have the clarity to speak calmly and effectively. We also know when we should not engage and instead find professional or upstander supports. Find tools and a voice to move peace forward in your spheres influence.
Yes, peace in its fluffier forms with fuzzy and rose-colored ethereal space bubbles do calm consciousness and allows us to find some respite from the hard work of peace-building and justice, but that is NOT the Peace that passes all understanding for the work of this moment. It is not the peace required to eradicate racial injustice, hateful attacks, and homophobic assaults on bodies and liberties. We must face ourselves and our collective history as we commit to build a peaceful future.
I invite you to redefine what peace means to you. Meditate. Contemplate. Agitate. Engage your conscious self to dig for a deeper, wiser peace that builds your personal bridge to today’s requirements to create a lasting peace…not just for you, but for our country and our world. Sophie explained this choice clearly for us: