Of course everybody can spell “peace”. Five letters, 2xe, 1xp, 1xa, 1xc.
But that is just the word “peace”. I mean the reality PEACE, not the word.
Seems to me that most of us can spell both the word war and war itself.
War to me is a spectrum. Just as WARM can be anything from say 20 degrees to 60 degrees Celcius and more, WAR has also gradations.
There is a very neutral state between peace and war, both peace and war, neither peace and war.
But as things heat up (listen to the language) neutral moves into more hot, and hotter still. Finally it is red hot and we burn our fingers.
I call the three gradations of war “Agon” (neutral), “Antiagon” or “Antagonism” (warm) and “Agony” (hot). (Agon is Greek for battle, contest.)
The last stage Agony is practically “war in bloom”, what we usually think of as war: people battling each other, bombs, shooting, missiles, torture, blood, killing.
When I say that everybody knows how to spell war I don’t mean that everybody is a soldier, shooting and killing others. I mean that the milder states of the war-complex, mainly “Antagonism”, is something we all know and practice (in different forms and at different levels).
What then is “Antagonism”? By that word I mean a energetic, most often emotional, relation between parties – people or groups – where we for a time become contestants, opponents, even mildly enemies.
This happens in many ways and in many forms. However, all of them have a certain recognizable taste to them.
Again there is a scale. Antagonism can be two friends joking in a teasing way, pinching each other figuratively. The antagonistic energy can be there for seconds or minutes.
Or we have the domestic quarrel — small or large– going on all the time in the world. Maybe a big hurdle or just a question of who forgot to turn off the stove.
Or the debate (even feud) between two scientists, or really anybody — standing on different sides of a question. Each one defends his side, his point of view, and often becomes even more a believer in his faith because disputed by the other party.
Antagonism can be subtle, almost loving, more marked, a disturbing irritation (as when somebody we like says something unkind to or about us (“How could he say that…??”) and, moving to Agony, actually violent.
Very few of us are total strangers to antagonism. A number of us are also familiar with Agony, the more gruesome stages of the energy.
That is why I say that we can all spell “W-A-R”.
What would it then mean to spell peace?
To a large degree, to be able to neutralize and stay away from war in its many forms and disguises. To really recognize Antagonism and put out its fire. Or lets say — before you think that I am talking about denying conflict – to tire of and leave behind pyromanic tendencies.
To stoke on the fire of Antagonism, to water the war seeds, different ways of saying the same thing: We are moving away from harmony, towards conflict
From Harmonize to Polarize.
(As to “rights” and why that word drags down peace work, see this article.)
I don’t mean that conflicts should be denied or given euphemistic names. I just think we should upgrade our questions, from “Who is right?” and “Can I not demand my own rights!!” to “How can I be better than what I criticize?”
Conflicts look very different seen from the vantage point of these different questions. Wanting to be right is a very different impulse than wanting to be better. (Better than who? Yourself yesterday.)
If there is very short advice leading peacewards this might be it:
BE BETTER THAN WHAT YOU CRITICIZE!
This could be one letter of peace. Now we are starting to spell the reality, not just the word.
If trying to improve ourselves is a step towards peace, slogans like “hate hate!” typify the opposite direction, making us MORE like what we criticize.
Here is an insidious, thus dangerous war seed — namely the impulse to see ourselves as entities already being right, having nothing to LEARN and everything to TEACH.
The premise is that in some mysterious way we have gotten (cheaply) tickets to the section of life’s theater called The Right Side. Those we disagree with, criticize, attack and wage war against are sitting not on the Left Side but on the WRONG SIDE.
A current example of this is people who are shocked, indignant and furious because Donald Trump has made a statement about “blame on both sides”. Something one would have thought to be a truism. Not so, it seems.
Enough! That was today’s spelling lesson.
–To sum up: As long as we take it totally for granted that we understand peace — without actually looking at the function and dynamics of harmonious and polarizing tendencies — we will just repeat ourselves, going through the same old (more or less antagonistic) movements as before.
The spelling of war we well (TOO WELL) understand. With the spelling of peace we are beginners.