Peace on earth.
It is a message shared on seasonal greetings. Poets speak of it wistfully. When words fail it is how we express hope for all touched by sorrow, loss and tragedy.
But where are the peace makers? Not the heads of state, or treaty negotiators. Not those whose names will be associated with global prize.
Where are the makers of everyday peace — in homes, schools, city halls, and corporate boardrooms — those who inspire dialogue and collaboration; and build bridges?
Are there any among us able to question process, probe perspective and debate outcome without engendering adversarial relationship?
Where are those able to see diverse perspective, hear differing beliefs, erase ultimatums, and facilitate a dialogue that builds on shared aspirations?
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 divisive exercise. And end conversation.
Look around. Wherever meaningful dialogue is missing, progress minimal and every action polarizing, chances are there are no peace makers in the mix.
Long-term progress requires collaboration. Lasting relationship requires conversation. And a cooperative spirit rarely goes hand-in-hand with lines in the sand.
Two Keys To Makers of Everyday Peace
Anyone can be a peace maker. Each of us can be a change agent. Here are two keys.
1) Makers of everyday peace value on-going dialogue above winning a single debate. The goal is continuity — to keep the conversation going.
2) Peace makers seek to understand as much as to be understood; intentional listening becomes the baseline for communication.
Want conversation where there is none? Want to change a discussion that is going nowhere? Build dialogue around these two keys.
Progress will seem slow; but blessed are the peacemakers.