Peace is being able to take genuine action in and from a place of love.
This includes taking genuine action to surface, embrace, and transform conflict. It also includes the ability to simply be in and from a place of love.
Peacemaking happens when we take action in and from a place of love–and sometimes, it’s up to us to make that place first.
Peace keeping happens when we maintain genuine action and places with love.
Peace building happens when genuine action and places create love.
Thanks to Jimmy Tomczak for asking me to tidy up my pondering with the prompt: “Peace is … ____”
REFERENCES and RELEVANT MOMENTS
On embracing and transforming conflict, these are core internal principles in the martial art, Aikido. The martial art’s classical forms in combat/sudden situations are often under dispute–the common critique being that many practitioners are taught motions that aren’t feasible or practiced in environments which let them become reflexive when someone gets hit in the face or in very close quarters. That said the origins of the martial art and discipline stem from a combative art (older forms of jitsu/basic combat martial arts used among samurai), and the heart of its long-term power comes from emphasizing that the [experienced] practitioner can reach a point where they’re in a position for choosing to create humane outcomes–i.e. disarming, pinning, disabling the assailant.
I’ve been contemplating how to engage a kind of uprising that’s underway in one of the professional/fellowship networks I’m a part of. In a nutshell, one of the fellows raised her grievance that the organization’s criteria for selecting mentors isn’t inclusive to people whose gifts for mentoring and communication may differ or be shut out by written methods and other biases.
The organization is understaffed, under-resourced, and tasked with stewarding a large (around 2700 person) “community” with members/fellows worldwide in addition to being charged to live up to a relatively tall mission which is to turn “high potential indivdiuals into high performance leaders” or something of that narrative. As a rough cross-section of the ideal membership profile circa 2013-2014 it’s a blend between MBAs who rock at business but want to do meaningful work, and activists who want to find ways to make ends meet while still doing the work that matters most.
On one hand, I’m keenly aware of the grievances and frustrations a lot of minority/people of color expressed in the organization.
I’m also familiar with the nuance that’s embedded in why many justice advocates often say that individuals of a wronged population shouldn’t have to explain themselves for voicing their dissent and discontent.
The next barrier we face comes from whether explaining further trespasses into what constitutes work–and whether people, especially those who were most affected by the issues raised, can or will be compensated for their work.
The tension in the environment is enough that I can see several people (and at least one has) asserting a business proposition in what’s likely a retributive transactional manner–basically charging the offenders with a service for the sake of taking their money. Having been frustrated enough to imagine that scenario myself, it’s an item that at least now looks a tad discomforting.
In my opinion, the answer is yes: people should be able to earn compensation. And it can be done, so long as they take a generative approach to partnering with the people who are best suited to leading or contributing to solving and changing the problems at hand.
Yet when we see lengthy comments pouring in from others, and even someone like me who at the moment can read, reflect, and write in relative comfort without severely risking my own ability to live–there’s an opportunity to do something with that capacity which also exists in a moment of potential urgency.
In revisiting my writings from 2014 to figure out what I might do, I found that I wrote:
“Sometimes the only solution to oblivion and apathy is empathy.
“fair isn’t a choice in your life, eliminate that consideration from the possibilities you might face and you’ll adjust to situations faster.” As in, it’s unlikely you as an individual will come across situations that are fair, “but fairness is a choice that can be made together in our lives” As in: you boost the odds of creating fairness among other people who care and can take action.
The distinction between choices at an individual level versus choices that can emerge from a collective perspective resonates with some of the stories we hear about “astroturf” (AKA fake charities/non-profits set up as front groups for a corporation) as opposed to grassroots) organizations–whether it’s about stopping litter, pollution, or global warming/climate change, the common narrative you hear in the media and among most organizations involves what individuals need/fail to do, rather than how we can engage, create, and activate better systemic changes as neighborhoods, communities, cities, states, or as a nation.
It also reminds me a bit about the narratives about voting as individuals doing their part–getting out the vote is important. And it’s also susceptible to having to choose the least-bad of a false choice: who determines what policy items or people are going to be decided? If you have a lousy pool of candidates to choose from, it’s not a great place to be in. The best you can do is figure out which one you and your community might have a higher likelihood of holding accountable and being able to persuade.
Especially when gerrymandering skews or suppresses voter representation. The parallel systemic action might be to look at the role of city clerks for making voter and civic engagement a more visceral endeavor (i.e. Garlin Gilchrist the III’s brilliant Detroit campaign), look to how citizens were able to organize statewide ballot proposals that would eliminate gerrymandering, or even educate constituents about how to effectively advocate to legislators, government agencies, and at public hearings/comment periods.
I attribute this lesson to two people, one is Mayor Rice of Geronimo in Oklahoma, and the other to Ulysses Newkirk, who recently remarked that “Apathy is worse than open conflict.”
In looping back to a deep ingredient for what inspired this post and my conversation with Jimmy, conflict is essential to peace–so long as it can be genuinely engaged and transformed, or maybe at the least neutralized, into positive outcomes.
About the origins of astroturf organizations and how the campaign against litter was parented by the company that’s (still) lobbying in legislature against recycling:
Other related writings on love in other iterations: