“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” ~Ronald Reagan
“Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind. ” – John F. Kennedy
Peacemaker is possibly in a dictionary somewhere with a picture of my face beside it and the words “doesn’t like conflict”-you know how there is often an accompanying photo to better illustrate the word? There I would be. I think I’d be happier to go straight from “Woke up in the morning” to “Had a peaceful day,” and skip any conflict or war in the middle. The words of two presidents seem to work together, though, the way we can work together with those who bring conflict into our days: Learning to handle conflict in a peaceful manner is how we will find our peace, and if we don’t learn to handle that conflict (war) it will put an end to us. Since I’m not willing to throw up my hands in surrender to the war around me, I’m going to have to learn to handle conflict by peaceful means. Will you do the same?
It’s a joke at my house that if I post on social media that the sky is blue, there is a good chance that there will soon be an onslaught of comments arguing that the sky is not blue. They might argue that it is Cornflower or Cerulean, but either way they will disagree with my statement. I seem to create these discussions that invite people to share their disagreements. If only they could remain civil disagreements. I suppose I could ignore opinions or not post my statements in the first place, but it’s fascinating to me to know why people see things the way they do. I’m looking for an opportunity to learn from someone else’s point of view. It sometimes seems that I’m in the minority.
Most of us have either always agreed with other points of view to avoid rocking the proverbial boat or have always taken a differing point of view for the sake of argument. With a computer screen to protect us from the other side of the discussion, Carl Trueman of the Westminster Theological Seminary says, “It is so easy to demonize those with whom one disagrees when one does not have to look them in the eye or engage what they actually say.” Are you and I willing to engage with someone else, especially if it means handling conflict in a peaceful way?
I think it’s time to get back to supporting what our two presidents said and engaging in civil disagreement with people who view issues differently than we do. Maybe we should sit in on a Debate class at the nearest university, but if that isn’t an option, I have a list of important rules to remember to make civil disagreement work, taken from several wise sources:
- Go into your civil disagreement seeking to understand or to resolve, not to win.
- Use “I” more than “You” in your statements. I feel is how we own our part, as opposed to blaming the other person with You did.
- Separate the person from the problem; don’t alienate someone by blaming them for the problem.
- Stay on topic. Don’t bring up things that are really unrelated just because you see an opportunity to speak.
- Don’t interrupt. No matter how badly you want to counter what the other person is saying, allow them to finish before you respond.
There are people on all sides of us who see life differently than we do. That is really ok. We will have warring and conflict that we must work through if we want to get to the peace. War and Peace…“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” ― Leo Tolstoy,