The Point of Peace
Peace. It’s a word and concept few ever escape. While I could bore you with an analysis of it’s myriad, yet somehow banal, definitions, I’d rather reclaim the word by placing it into a proper present-day context.
We do need a basic set of definitions, however. Peace is, quite plainly, a state of non-conflict. It may be used internally, externally, or relationally.
Ah…agreement. That simple little imp we all hunt, daily. To agree with me is to say I’m correct. I’m right. I’m true. What I believe is true. This innate need to be hidden within a crowd of likeness is both cultural and biological. It’s the safety in numbers…as long as those numbers all agree.
How often then do people hide their true thoughts, to conform? Agreement leads to harmony, not because of any goodwill or love between souls, but rather a sense of dominance and submission. To “agree” is to buy a state of peace, but not actual peace.
This leads to the ancient definition of peace, the Latin pax/pacis. On the surface, pax simply means “peace”. But from this word we also derive the word pacify and pacification. These words imply forced “making of the peace” in a military fashion. No doubt many of you have either heard or read the phrase “pacify the countryside” in the context of war. Of course the term has grown over time, but in a way more like “escalation” than actual growth. To make peace is to force peace. It’s an important distinction. It’s my will over yours.
The reason this idea weighs heavy on my mind is obvious: the American Peace we’ve enjoyed for decades seems suddenly broken. Just as Pax Romana was the institution of peace across its empire, there exists the concept of Pax Americana. A derisive term perhaps, but I also wish to reclaim this for internal use of all Americans…and citizens of other countries if they find it useful.
So let’s get to it, then. EXTERNAL PEACE IS A MYTH. There is no, nor ever has been, any peace in the world. Still waters ferry no sailors. Stagnate bogs kill. To stop movement is to maximize pain. The need for humanity to “cure” things like conflict, pain, suffering, and death always causes more of it. I’m led to what is perhaps the best theological science fiction book of all time, The Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. If you haven’t read it…well…go pick up a copy and read it asap. The book illustrates the hubris and ignorance of humanity in the face of Truth. While I’ve contested the fact with a few fellow readers, the book is fundamentally Christian in its outlook.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Here’s one of my favorite quotes about the folly of pursuing “peace” as if a god:
“To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.”
― Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz
I feel like the above is obvious to all, yet it’s very difficult to apply. We seek comfort. We seek pleasure. We seek a status that defends us from the rest of the crowd of unwashed masses. It’s the only self-baptism we can muster. We blend into the crowd as sheep when we long to stand out as the shepherd. It’s not a paradox; It’s a fear-based decision.
I want to remind everyone of this very important fact: there are no alpha sheep.
More to come on this. It’s time to redefine Pax Americana.