Moving from peace talk to peace walk
Self-delusion exists in all spheres of life. Of course. Why should a certain life domain be protected from this virus?
It also exists in the peace domain. If you ask people “Are you for peace or war?” probably no one, not even military people, would answer “war”. But words and talk is cheap. Walk is more costly.
Differentiating between talk and walk is made difficult by the very vagueness of the word peace. What exactly do we mean by it?
Some say a definition is not needed, everybody already knows what peace is.
Maybe… Until they are asked to define it. Then things get more difficult, more floating…
But if we don’t really know what we mean by peace, don’t know what it is, only what it isn’t — peace is very often defined negatively: absence of outright war, hunger, injustice, poverty, etc. — then differentiating between peace talk and walk is not going to be easy.
The whole field is mentally messy, vague and unclear.
Contrast this with the clarity not only desired but demanded in matters of war. Soldiers are rigorously trained; exact planning, strategies, protocols and objectives are de rigeur. You cannot wage war with a hippie go lucky attitude, unless you are one of Kelly’s heroes.
Let me try to be as orderly as the military folks are. What do I mean by peace walk?
Most importantly I mean bringing ourselves into the picture. Know thyself, thy peace side and war side.
One can “work for peace” while turning a blind eye to some aspects of oneself. Like our lively enjoyment of football, pro wrestling, heated political debates on TV, partaking in demonstrations with lots of aggression and angry shouting.
I am not expecting anybody to be a saint. I am certainly not one. And shouting has its place.
No, I am talking about self-reflection.
“Charity begins at home”, so people say. That’s good advice for peace as well. But let’s not forget the second part of the saying, often forgotten or not known: Charity begins at home, but should not end there.
So, peace work/walk should begin at home, but not end there.
To really “peace walk” we should start with ourselves, but definitely not stop there. Joining inner and outer results in better peace than if we work for global peace while watering our own war seeds.
That’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde both trying to control the steering wheel.
Introspection can also show us that:
The model of war — close to the model of sports (there will be one winner and one or several losers) — is so common and widespread in our world that it easily becomes invisible. We breathe it like air.
Mass media is built on this model. What is constantly highlighted, also in social media, is what is sensational, odd, strange, conflicting, violent, hurtful. War has a seat of honor in the news, peace might (on a good day) enter through the kitchen door….
It takes effort and sharp thinking to separate ourselves from the win-lose norm of society. Just as air in our urban areas is impure and smoggy, so is the emotional and mental atmosphere of our media-ridden world.
— So what is a real peace walker then?
A person who is not free of war-like impulses, but who is aware of and seriously tries not water hos own war seeds, to hold these weeds in check.
This makes the peace walker more tolerant and wise than a mere peace talker. He knows that when he is pointing a finger at someone three fingers are pointing at him. So he understands that, yes, there is blame on both sides. It is not the fault of ONE if TWO are quarreling and fighting.
This way the much needed impulse of self-betterment — trying to be better than what we criticize — enters the picture.
We move beyond the blaming attitude: “Why are you so stupid and violent!?” when we see the violence in ourselves. Understanding that we are sitting in the same planetary boat the word “brotherly” becomes more than just euphonious sounding prattle.
Talk turns into walk.
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