What Precedes Peace?
A few years ago, I came across a quote from Ariane de Bonvoisin about peace. She stated: “On the other side of acceptance is where peace exists, where solutions are.” The quote was taken from her book, The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier. After reading the quote, I became curious about this concept we call “peace” and what it really means to me. You see, on the surface, I think the opposite of peace is war. Now, I realize, if we don’t have war, we still might not have peace. On the other hand, if we consider absolute opposites, then I guess war does mean the absence of peace.
But, what about de Bonvoisin’s statement about acceptance and peace? I suppose we cannot have peace without a great deal of acceptance. If acceptance is where peace exists, then wouldn’t we have to include change as a necessary part of peace. As people attempt to make peace, they must at least be willing to change their minds. Before we can change, we must have acceptance of current reality. And, what is the opposite of acceptance? Well, of course, resistance.
Resistance stops change, peace, progress, and in general, growth. Think about it – don’t we see resistance at the root of all “un-peaceful” situations? Consider all of the wars we are involved in. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya all have resistance as a reason why there isn’t peace in those three areas of the world. We sometimes call it insurgency, but it’s nothing, more or less, than resistance. If the “insurgents” wouldn’t resist we would have peace. How about the “war on drugs” or “the war on poverty?” Again, resistance plays a big role when considering the purpose for the wars. If there wasn’t resistance to avoiding drugs or “sharing the wealth,” we would have peace on those two fronts.
So, how much power is there in acceptance? Before writing this, I never thought much about it. I remember using the old sixties/seventies “song-quote” from John Lennon, “give peace a chance.” I guess, instead of acceptance, I focused on peace. “Just be peaceful,” was my answer to most “war-like” occurrences. Perhaps, if we consider that peace is on the other side of acceptance and focus on acceptance first, then peace will follow more easily.
Let’s consider a “non-war” personal example. I remember, when I first started teaching, proclaiming that I would only teach for a few years, after which I would leave to find a better paying job. I was resisting the job of teaching because I felt it didn’t pay enough. In fact, I remember being embarrassed that many who had graduated with me from college were making twice what I was making. When referring to the poor pay I received, relative to others with comparable education, I would often use the following quote by Miguel de Cervantes from his novel, Don Quixote, “That which cost little is less valued.” Simply stated, I felt, as a teacher, I was not valued enough.
After resisting the teaching profession for a few (approximately seven years:-), I came to the realization that, though the pay was not comparable to those in other professions, there was more than pay that should be considered. Other than the pay, my job-satisfaction was high. I came to an acceptance of this career (job) of teaching. When I accepted teaching as my career, I was at peace with the job and myself. And, when I gave peace a chance, through acceptance, I never considered any other job until I retired. The point is, acceptance came before peace and peace was the result of my acceptance.
Instead of resistance, I think we need to direct our thinking in the opposite direction. When working toward peace, we need to focus on acceptance. As we focus on acceptance, appreciation and “the present” must be in the forefront. We need appreciation for the life we have and realize that we live only in the present. Appreciation leads to acceptance and peace can only exist in the present.
So if you want peace, don’t resist, but instead, look for acceptance. If you want acceptance, then appreciate your life and be present in the present!
What (usually) precedes peace? ACCEPTANCE!