As a Quaker minister, peace is one of the basic tenets of my faith. Not only finding personal peace, but seeking ways to bring peace into the world around me. Early Friends called it “Waging Peace.”
There is a lot to be said for an absence of violence and conflict. I think this is the kind of peace we would all wish for. Unfortunately, this is not typically what we receive.
Life is full of conflict. Some of it is good, some just really unnecessary. Worse, a lot of conflict we experience is something we have sought out. Engaging in that “discussion” with that person who has a set opinion on the subject? Probably unproductive. But why is it so hard to let it go?
Some part of us actually delights in conflict, especially if we think (delusional as it may be) that we could somehow “win” the conversation. More often than not, though, everyone walks away frustrated and more likely to kick the dog when they walk in the door.
Violence begets violence. And violence is not limited to actions, words can foster violence in our hearts. That violence comes out in words that are intended to wound and often progresses into physical violence.
If we want a reduction in the conflict in our lives, we need to be the ones to walk away. Sometimes we see someone with such a wrong opinion, but that is not our problem. We need to make the choice to let others be, even if, and perhaps especially when, that means allowing them to remain in the wrong.
Because sometimes we are wrong, too.
Hard to believe, right? But it is true. No one in the history of the world has ever been right about everything. (Except Jesus, but I am speaking of regular people.) We get things wrong. We argue on the wrong side. And it does not help when people beat us with our wrongness, so why do we think that technique will work when we use it?
Most change is gradual. It takes patience to allow others to find the truth in their own time.
In the mean time, seek their good. Love them and care fo them. Treat them with respect, like you would like to be treated. When they know that you care, they are more likely to come to you when they begin to question their stubborn viewpoints, and they might even listen to you explain your take on the issue.
With all of the opportunities to engage in conflict, why not choose to wage peace instead?
**Just a note to say along with the Apostle Paul, “Not that I have already achieved all this or have already been made perfect…” I tend to blog about things I am learning along the way, and consider myself to be a work in progress!