I shared a first version of this post in December of 2012 in the wake of the unthinkable in Newtown, Connecticut.
And here we are again…unable to imagine the news we woke to…searching for a way to digest the senseless…groping for words that mean something…wondering what we might do to make a difference.
I don’t know about you; but my knee-jerk reaction is to want a big answer. A solution no one has ever thought of. A response so complete that the solution resonates around the world.
But even if that is a possibility — and history argues against the likelihood — we’re left to hope someone else can pull it off.
But what do we do?
I only know of one thing. We can become makers of everyday peace — in homes, schools, city halls, corporate boardrooms, playgrounds and yes…even in nightclubs. We can be the ones who listen…inspire honest dialogue and collaboration…the ones who build bridges.
If we decide to, we can be the ones who question, probe and debate without engendering adversarial relationships.
Wherever two or three gather — never mind three-hundred-million-or so — do we really expect that we’ll all agree? Diversity in opinion and outright disagreement are a certainty. Some of the differences are insignificant. Others will seem insurmountable.
I have always enjoyed vigorous debate. The exercise is healthy. The dialogue can be productive. Unless lines in the sand or litmus tests render the debate a pointless exercise, thereby precipitating conflict.
Look around. Wherever progress is minimal (or non-existent) and every conversation polarizing, check the debate. Chances are the conversations are contentious. Often even angry.
Long-term progress in any community will always depend on collaboration.
Two Keys To Makers of Everyday Peace
We can’t fix unspeakable tragedy. But we can change the world we live and work in every day. Anyone can be a peace maker. Here are two keys.
- Makers of everyday peace value on-going dialogue above winning a debate. The goal is continuity — to keep the conversation going.
- Peace makers seek to understand as much as to be understood; winning takes a backseat to gaining perspective; intentional listening becomes the baseline for communication
Want to do something that makes a difference? Tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, be a peacemaker. We have scores of opportunities each day. Progress will seem slow; but blessed are the peacemakers.