Give Peace A Chance
After the holidays were over, Paul and I sat down to watch TV together or rather to see if we could find something we could agree on to watch. We had both heard all the hype about Game of Thrones, and we decided to give it 15 minutes to see if it was any good.
Two hours later we were still sitting there, and I’m not sure we had even blinked. We were caught - hook, line, and sinker. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s set around 300 A.C., and it’s a tad bit violent.
I’m semi-ok with the violence, but I do have a tendency to curl up into a ball on the couch, look through my fingers and talk to the TV. My warnings would be so helpful for their life expectancies, but no one pays much attention to me except for Paul who continually sends me exasperated side glances.
During one of their philosophical discussions regarding the upcoming war, one of the characters made the statement, “You only make peace with your enemy.”
What a profound statement. It stopped me in my tracks. We throw the word peace around a lot. “Give peace a chance.” We wear t-shirts, have bumper stickers that promote peace, but that’s like throwing one bucket of water on an inferno: it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not going to make much difference.
I rewatched the scene where this phrase was uttered, and I registered the feeling behind the statement. One character was questioning: you want me to make peace with the people who tried to kill my son? He seemed to be saying of all the people on earth, THOSE are the ones you want me to make peace with? He’s incredulous. To which the other man replies, “We only make peace with our enemies. That’s why it’s called making peace.”
We routinely make peace with ourselves, with certain decisions or circumstances. Making peace with others is another matter. Being peaceful or agreeable when driving in Charlotte traffic is almost too much for me. I think of the intentions I need to set, the mindframe I need to be in before hitting the road if I want a calm and peaceful trip.
For countries and factions who are diametrically opposed to each other, making peace is a big ask. However each year an individual or group of individuals is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “having done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". The list of winners is a who’s who of the most influential people in the world.
As I was looking over the list from years past, I came to 1972, and there was no winner listed. I was intrigued so I dug a little deeper. Nobel rules state that the Peace Prize cannot be awarded posthumously so the committee chose not to give one that year because as they said, “there was no suitable living candidate”. In 1972, the world population was 3.837 BILLION people, and there was “no suitable living candidate.” It’s unfathomable that out of 3.837 BILLION people there was not a single person living who was worthy.
I’m fairly certain that I won’t be winning the Nobel Peace Prize. My bet is that I won’t even get an honorary mention! And most likely neither will any of us, but that doesn’t mean we should consider ourselves out of the running. The smallest of actions have ripple effects. We can escalate or deescalate situations around us with our actions. By learning to think before reacting to a slight or insult, by learning to merely “take it down a notch” we can lessen the amount of anger and discord, and that’s a pretty powerful first step towards peace.