Sunday, January 1, 2017

What Does Peace Look Like?

If we want to find peace it would help to know what it looks like. How else will we know when we find it? There seems to be little peace in the world right now, right? Or is it that we just don't recognize it when we see it?

Can you describe peace? Some people define peace as the absence of conflict. But I don't believe that is it. I think conflict is natural, even necessary. For without conflict, would there be change? And without change all simply dies. No, it's not the absence of conflict. It is how we humans resolve conflict.

Let's look more closely at conflict. Conflict occurs when one entity has something the other entity needs. [We will, for the moment, accept a strong want as a need.] We have been taught to share on the one hand or to take by force on the other hand. As we grow into adulthood the culture more and more emphasizes taking by force. You have it - I want it - I'll take it from you one way or another. 

Violence has become enjoyable, entertaining, and more and more acceptable. And the bigger the entity the more likely violence will become overt and physical, as in wars. So where do we find peaceful resolution of conflict? If we learned it in childhood, why don't we continue using it in adulthood? 

Peaceful resolution requires that we make compassionate contact with each other. Little kids get it. Joey sees that Johnny needs to have his turn with the toy and that Johnny feels bad because he doesn't have the toy. Recognizing Johnny's feelings and caring about Johnny, Joey lets Johnny play with the toy. 

The resolution comes through experiencing the other's feelings, through empathy. This is a very adult thing for a kid to do, don't you think? Or is it that it is a very "natural" thing to do and that is why kids can do it intuitively and adults usually have to work at it?

What do you think? 
What kind of conflicts do you experience during a normal day? 
How do you resolve them? 
Would you share an example with us in the comments? 
We will be exploring how to bring more peaceful resolution of conflicts as we go along. 
Please participate so we get more perspective. 


  1. You make some great points, especially that peace is how humans resolve conflict. I often wonder, why it is not given top priority. Also, I think most kids are naturally empathetic, and all too often adults lose touch with that ability. I am doing a lot of thinking about compassionate contact, as I consider those Americans who believe quite differently than I do. I want to reach out by starting with things we have in common, not our differences.

  2. Thank you. I agree that it is important to start looking at what we have in common. Sometimes that gets lost in the fear and anger of conflict. We have been educated in war but not peace. We need to learn to resolve conflict peacefully, compassionately, rather than turning it into battle.