“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”
– Dorothy Thompson
“I just need some Peace and Quiet.” How often is that ubiquitous phrase uttered by someone who’s frazzled, thinking that a nice long nap, or a couple of hours of silence, will solve everything? The expression “Peace and Quiet” has become commonplace that it’s slipped into cliche’ status. Look at it though–especially take note of the middle word: AND. Peace AND Quiet. As in, two separate entities.
Peace isn’t always quiet, and if we confuse quiet with peace, then we may never find peace of heart or peace of mind. We may have to feel a little discomfort on the journey to true peace. Scratch that “may” part. We will have some distinctly uneasy moments.
That’s okay. You’ll live, and so will I. And we’ll all be stronger, and the energy of the world will be elevated for us having endured, or even caused, a little dissonance, to do right:
The discomfort that may arise when you are a student in a classroom, and you don’t look to see how everybody else votes before you raise your hand (or keep it down).
The flush you feel when the room goes momentarily silent after you say, “Hey, that’s not right!” when someone makes a disparaging racial, sexist, religious or blonde (–yes, I am) remark.
The discomfiture you may experience in a staff meeting when you question the ethics of a business move.
The unease you overcome before softly saying, “I’m not going to let you speak to me that way.”
The judgmental stares you’ll endure when you come to the aid of someone who’s just embarrassed himself at a party.
The hardship you choose to face in order to keep your children, or any child, physically and emotionally safe.
The abject fear a boy in a white shirt must have felt as he stood alone before an approaching tank.
Those italic states listed above? Temporary. Survivable. And if we’re willing to face a fear of momentary difficulty, life- and world-changing. And choosing to face those moments in order to achieve the end result of making the world spin a little more compassionately on its axis? That is the prescription to true Peace of Mind, and Peace of Heart.
Quiet is the absence of noise. Peace is the presence of what’s right, just, and loving. We won’t get to Peace of Heart, or Peace of Mind, by turning down the volume and retreating. We’ll get there by making a little noise, and realizing that the dissonance resolves into some pretty sweet chords.
(speaking of sweet chords, my newest favorite group is Tonic Sol Fa. Check them out.)