Written as part of an Advent Daily Devotional for the UCC in Wallace, ID
I recently saw a friend’s Facebook post; her comment was “This is just so wrong!” and it was attached to a news clip I recognized from the day before. As I recalled what I had seen, I began to formulate a response, never intending to actually make one – either on Facebook or in person. But I kept thinking and composing, mostly some variation of, a choice between small businesses and public health should never have to be made, but when push comes to shove, public health comes first. After spending significant time pondering and before I got too agitated, I decided to go back to her post and actually watch the link she had included – which introduced me to issues of a double standard, and the reality that what I had seen the day before was only sound bytes of the business owner’s pain and frustration. I have no idea what part of all of that my friend believes is so wrong. I wonder when, or if, I will ask her.
In the realm of making world peace, this is a trite example, unworthy of air time. We enjoy each other and share much despite and in the midst of our disagreements; not everything needs to be probed and explored. And yet… I feel the differences accumulating like soap scum on a shower stall. Little distances, small dismissals, cursory consideration of what she says, baby building blocks of things we don’t talk about, places I won’t go. Maybe, if I want to be a maker of peace, this is where I dive in. This is where I begin.
Peace is not the absence of conflict any more than it’s drowning each other out until we win either the shouting or shooting match. Peace is not rallying the troops so that we can be sure to come out on top and insist our way wins. Peace is rolling up the sleeves and getting to work: Holding my tongue and my assumptions long enough to hear what she’s saying, and caring enough to ask. Sharing my truth in a voice that invites hers. Living from the assumption that we both have something to learn and something to offer. If I don’t want to live in a monochrome silo of like minded look-a-likes, I need to begin to explore the colors and convictions of the ones who live next door. Will it help the rhetoric-slinging quagmire in Washington or the menacing tap dance on nuclear warheads between us and Iran? Probably not, but it’s where I can begin. And who knows? Voice by voice, ear by ear, heart by heart, and with God stirring about in the midst of it all, you just never know what might begin to emerge.