I think many of us find ourselves thinking about peace this way:
But in actuality, it’s more like this:
Peace isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. A never-ending journey, because just when we think we’ve “made it,” something else happens in our lives to make us realize that there’s another aspect of peace we need to work on.
I recently read a book titled Undivided. It’s by two women–a mother and daughter–who found themselves struggling to keep their family connection while dealing with a situation that could have been (and was, for a while) very divisive. Patricia (the mother) is a devout Christian; Alana (the daughter) converted to Islam. For ten years–ten years!–they didn’t talk about their differences. They couldn’t. They basically ignored them and tried to continue life.
But differences like that can’t be ignored forever. They become a huge elephant that dominates everything, even if never openly acknowledged. Sooner or later they will demand to be spoken of.
Patricia and Alana shared their journey through alternating chapters, chapters they appear to have written alternately. then shared with each other and responded to. There’s a lot of frustration and anger with each other, a lot of hurt that’s been held in and needs to be expressed. There’s a lot of misunderstanding.
Their journey isn’t over, but it’s a start.
There are difficult discussions we all have to have. We have to learn to listen to each other–truly listen, not just be quiet while we’re thinking how we’re going to respond. We’re going to hear things from each other that we don’t want to hear. We’re going to have to be willing to acknowledge that even though we may have grown up in the same country…the same community…the same city…even the same family, we’re going to have experienced life differently–and we’re going to have to give those life experiences validity, even when we don’t understand.
It’s not going to be easy. But we’re at a crossroads, and we can either continue down the road of misunderstandings that leads to conflict–or we can take the difficult road that is the journey to peace.