I’ve been thinking about peace a lot lately. Personal peace. Relational peace. Political peace. World peace.
So it wouldn’t be surprising that I stopped what I was doing to watch a short news clip this morning that featured an “anti-war mom” out with a megaphone in front of a military installation. I had the sound down during the first part of the story so I couldn’t hear what she was saying. Apparently though, the real news value wasn’t her protest.
An old gentleman, a sergeant who served many years ago, walked up in the remnants of his dress uniform and began talking with her. Perhaps he was yelling at her, I couldn’t tell. In seconds, the demonstrator turned her megaphone directly at him. When he came very close, she put the instrument directly in his face and, for whatever reason, bumped him with it.
Appearing startled, the man pushed the megaphone away from his face and kept talking. Other protesters jumped in. The news person reported that military police had to step in to stop the “shoving” match.
My perception is that no one truly emerged as a victor in that episode. Sarge was jostled around, even though the news footage didn’t show him ever raise his hands from his side except to push the megaphone away from his face. The peace folks did quite a bit of shoving. I find that almost comical — except it isn’t really funny. True, I didn’t hear what the older gentleman was saying. And he was quite bold in pushing his way to the epicenter of the demonstration. Perhaps he was disrespectful. Perhaps these women felt threatened by him. I really don’t know all the details. But I know what it looked like.
Whatever was happening, the whole episode was embarrassing for those of us in the peace business.
And by the way, we’re all in the “peace business.”
From our military personnel in harm’s way to the mother who believes that her calling is to attract attention to armed action she has deemed wrong, every single one of us has been called to peace. As with most important things, we are called to different roles, however.
We need less shouting and more quiet talking. We need less pushing to the middle of someone’s space and a more ordered presence close by — available to talk and even to serve those with whom we disagree. We need fewer megaphones and more cups of cold water. In short, we need more respect.
And we don’t just need respect out on the picket lines. What happened to cause these protesters to gather? What conversations were neglected? What questiones went unanswered? And, perhaps, what answers went unheard?
So, you’re a peacemaker. I want to invite you to push for peace today. Not with physical force and ugly words. Push past boundaries you’ve never crossed. Offer comfort to someone in need. Be kind. You’ll be energizing a force far more powerful than any shove you can muster.