Today is The International Day Of Peace.
When my boy was three or four years old he asked me what peace was. I remember the day distinctly because it was one of those questions like why do we have to die? or why do some people have to suffer? that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, leaves you feeling that there is no one answer that can adequately sum up the reasons those things happen.
I remember looking up at the sky for inspiration. I often look to the sky at such moments. It usually doesn’t let me down but on that day it regarded me with its still, smiling blueness like freshly laundered spring curtains and I could see no answers in its vast expanse.
No answers but the blue of the sky. And it came to me that maybe that was the answer – the unwavering blue. So I tried it out to see how he would take it.
Peace is when people can stand and look at the sky and marvel at the beautiful blue without worrying that someone is going to come and tell them to stop or make them go to a place where they can’t see the sky anymore. Peace is being able to look at the sky and not be afraid.
Simplistic, I know. Inadequate. Totally missing the point. Yet my explanation has remained part of the way my son regards peace. He has put his own spin on it as he has grown older. When he catches news bulletins in war torn areas he often speaks of the people who live there not being able to enjoy a sunny day, or to notice wildflowers growing by the side of the road or to hear the joy of birdsong.
It’s not their fault, he says. They’re too worried to enjoy those things because there is no peace.
So what is peace?
Is it the absence of war or conflict or an army occupying your country?
Is is a mental state or a physical one?
Should it be visible?
Should we feel a ripple of apprehension as we bandy the term about because we know in our hearts that the peace we actually think of when we say the word – the still blue sky kind of peace – is unattainable in this imperfect world we find ourselves in?
There has to be a chance of it. There has to be a chance for people the world over to feel it at least once in their lifetime.
We speak so often of peace in our countries steeped in democracy. We go on and on about liberty and freedom and our rights. But do we really understand what it would mean to not experience those things? To perhaps never experience them.
Maybe the answer does lie in the unstinting blue. Maybe we are meant to look up at one of the most amazing sights we will ever see and breathe in the wonder of it. And feel at peace. And want others to feel the same. Maybe that thought is where we start.
Maybe that thought leads to another and another. And yet another.
Maybe that thought is all we need to say – enough. It’s not right people should live without peace.
Maybe that thought will lead to enough action so that one day we can say to anyone in the world – go in peace – and know with confidence that such a state is possible.
Maybe I’m a dreamer.
But maybe, just maybe, the tenacious, glittering, enduring blue really is the place to start.
A lovely, eloquent, thought-provoking post Sel. Peace seems so distant, so fragile, so unattainable. But we must hold up this ideal and focus on the potential it leaves with us, even in our own lives each day. Peace…in all it’s forms.
Your writing is so beautiful, no matter what the topic. Nick is a lucky guy, having such a thought-ful, kind and talented mom. You can tell him I said that too! 😉
It is the big question, for sure. I am haunted by the idea that there is no peace without justice, so I would think the sky maybe a little empty, maybe looking around at our neighbourhoods, suburbs and so on. There has been a lot of philosophy written about whether peace is a passive state or a potential that requires action to be manifest. Great posting.
I believe we need to know peace we need to feel peace in our hearts for without a calm and serene heart how will we recognise it when we see it.
Wonderful post as always Sel.
You are so kind to say that, G. I really, really appreciate it. I hope that peace is attainable – there is of course, so much more to it than wishing for it. It is actually an extremely complex issue, but maybe one day the work of all the social activists, human rights lawyers and politicians who actually give a damn will pay off. I hope.
I agree with you. I think justice is the only way to achieve peace in an absolute sense. Without it we are just looking at someone else’s watered down version of peace. I do lean to the side of action. Just talking about it doesn’t really do much. I guess that was the original role of the UN – active peacemakers – which in some cases is helpful, in other cases, not. You’ve got me thinking early in the morning, Paul. Great to hear from you!
Absolutely. Peace can be found in a number of different manifestations throughout the day. We certainly have to train ourselves to recognise it when we see it. And hope that people throughout the world get the chance to see it too!
“Maybe I’m a dreamer….”
But you’re not the only one…
It always amazes me how much our kids take back from our five minute lesson on important topics.
“With these two hands… I can change the world.”
Peace is an inside job! Peace begins with each of us. May we be peace!
Lovely thought provoking post.
I sat here wondering what peace actually is- is it found in the sky? I think peace is multi layered and the interaction of those layers brings war or peace. There is the peace within. There is the everyday interactions we have with others- we can choose peace or war. There is the wider interactions of governments toward their citizens and governments between each other. At each stage we can choose peace, which encompasses respect for ourselves and the other, or we can choose war. And I think every level feeds on the others. If I choose war inside of myself that will have an effect on others. War of a government on its people has an effect on the internal peace.
Peace is a complex thing and I believe an everyday process, not a one off goal.
Your blue sky metaphor is totally appropriate–in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything better as a description for peace.
You continue to dazzle and amaze.
I’m not sure that peace CAN come, but you are certainly leading your kiddo in that direction. Beautiful.
Remember someone once said if there wasn´t a God, we´d have to invent him?
Well, I think this could be paraphrased that, if there wasn´t a threat, we´d have to invent one. Because, it seems an odd coincidence that, almost as soon as we realised there was no longer a threat from the Iron Curtain countries, Al Qaeda came along ….
I couldn’t agree with you more. Our kids take it all on board, for sure. And adapt it. It gives me a lot of hope!
“Peace is an inside job.” I absolutely love that. I want it on a T-shirt!
What a well-considered, profound observation. You are completely right. I am going to print your comment out and hang it on the corkboard beside my desk. That is what peace is all about. tHanks, hon!
‘Blue skies. Smilin’ at me. Nothin’ but blue skies, do I see.’ You are very kind to say that. I do appreciate it!
Sadly, I’m not sure either. My idealistic side would like to think it is possible, but my cynical side says it will never happen. I’m going to hang with the idealistic side for as long as possible!
There is so much truth in what you are saying. Those war machines need a reason to keep functioning. Sometimes I really do wonder….
I loved your definition of peace, and how wonderful your son has held it close. It is amazing what our children remember when we thought they were not really listening?
Dear Selma, your post precipitated a bit o’ pondering in me…and that led to this:
Amazing what a bit o’ thinking can lead to…
I am constantly astounded by what my son remembers I said. Sometimes it makes me nervous that I am relaying the wrong information. I try to be as broad-minded and fair as possible. I need to turn the self-editing button on to high!
To inspire you is an honour indeed. Coming to read right now!
I would love your permission to REPRINT this, at my other blog, “Practice What You Peace.”
Thank you for seeking what dwells(ideally) within us, Selma.
Peace is much more than just the “absence of war”, it is revering that which allows freedom of thought, worship, and self-expression.
I am more than happy for you to reprint this. It would be an honour for me. I am constantly seeking peace – in a small sense and a larger sense. I do think it dwells in all of us. An excellent point. Great to hear from you!