This I Believe

Jill - Hickman, Nebraska
Entered on December 6, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: peace

I believe in peace, but not the kind that most people instinctively think of. The peace I refer to is multi-faceted: there is the peace within an individual and there is the peace between separate entities. Before anything else, inner-peace must be attained. Those who posses inner-peace exude confidence, calm, content, and a desire for greater peace.

I believe that peace is possible between two entities, but only when both seek the same kind of peace. Some groups visualize peace as a state of happiness with everyone, loving everyone else, no matter what. Other groups view peace as the silence of all opposing groups and opinions. In the first type of “peace”, when people challenge or attack us, we just sit back and love them and let them have their way, just to keep the so-called “peace”. This is the status quo; is it working? It is impossible to be happy and truly love each other all the time. The second type of “peace” has been tried and failed. Hitler enforced it. The Armenians felt it. The world watched it. Humanity cannot bear more of this “peace”. I suggest a third type.

Like nearly every other human on this planet, I want everyone to just agree with me and be and do everything just like me. Strangely enough, at the same time, I want no one to be like me; I want my individuality. These two ideas seem mutually exclusive, so I have to choose. Or do I? I believe in agreeing to disagree. True, I cannot employ this idea with everyone. I cannot reason with an armed criminal advancing towards me or with a close-minded listener. This pattern works within boundaries where the basic groundwork is first established. Both parties have to agree on basic rights.

I believe in a peace created by individuals who are as unique as snowflakes but who agree to certain truths. This peace cannot be developed as a wishy-washy, each-one-for-himself institution. History provides a guide. Shalom, peace, is not simply love, but an understanding. Jews and Christians have lived peacefully side by side in the United States, holding the Bible as their shared guidelines. They can disagree on fine or obscure points but understanding prevails in cases like “Thou shalt not murder”. We must establish rules and rights while retaining our individuality, compromising where we can but standing strong where we must. Shalom, that multi-faceted peace, is our hope for survival and coexistence.