Peace Part 6: My culture and peace

My culture has a mixed relationship with peace. People in the United States are militant, or pacifist, or somewhere in between. There are stories that glorify violence as the solution — and there are stories that villainize forceful acts that are legally justifiable. If a person speaks out against (a) war, that person will be called a traitor, and if a person defends the use of (reasonable) force by law enforcement, the person will be called a fascist. Our current culture is polarized, and impolite. Whatever view a person takes, that person likely feels under attack.

It is clear that the culture is strongly competitive — many people feel like they are fighting for their voices to be heard, for a better position in society, or just for the resources necessary to survive. We may oppose physical violence, but our culture has little interest in respecting others. Even people who practice peace often attack with cruel words.

We live in a society that does not see God’s image. We see ethnicity, voter blocks, socioeconomic groups, and political parties. We know who are allies are, and we know who our enemies are, but we forget that God created all of humanity in God’s own image. It is too easy to attack the political and intellectual opponent, even to the point of attempting to destroy reputations. Even people who fight for peace have difficulty living up to the call of peacemaking.

But, for all of the backstabbing, hateful speech, and personal attacks everybody I know values kindness and loyalty. Everybody I know wants to have friends in their life who will not “throw them under the bus” — and, there is a certain bit of shame when a person does act out in these ways. For all the cultural push to fight, there is also a dynamic that wants to stop fighting.

I live in a culture where it is possible to surround myself with like minded people, and it is also possible to make friends with a large diversity of people. I live in a culture where I am allowed to make peace with my neighbors, but conflict is also allowed, as long as it does not disruptive or measurably damaging. The challenge is to find ways of living peaceably even though not everybody values peace.

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One comment on “Peace Part 6: My culture and peace

  1. When I mentioned ‘reasonable force’, I was not considering recent news events, but my own memories. In my time as a retail worker, I’ve been able to observe how people act when they are caught stealing. I’ve even watched somebody who had to be restrained because he fought to escape [pretty stupid].

    I’ve never seen anyone act as ill used as the thief, even though he was restrained with (apparently) minimal force. I have no doubt that when the thief tells what happened, he will make it sound the same as he acted.

    The ethical decisions that law enforcement must make in their line of work are complex. What might be reasonable in one situation is excessive in another.

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