Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Nature of Peace...

With recent events, both in the world and locally, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to want "peace". In an effort to not get too academic, I will neglect the philosophical and academic citations and footnotes.

Traditionally, many people think of peace as something perfect, heavenly, and without conflict. We imagine sitting in a warm, sunny glade with animals cavorting in the treeline. Of course, for some it might be a beach or a mountain top, but the idea is the same. When mothers say, "I want peace and quiet," the two are linked inextricably.

Peace=quiet and quiet=peace, but this is clearly not the case in most cases. One can easily imagine many cases where just because things are quiet, they are not peaceful. We can think of "the calm before the storm" or "Things are quiet...too quiet." as simple examples of different common cultural understandings that quiet does not equal peace.

At the same time, peace does not equal quiet. In my assertion, peace demands there to not be complete quiet. I can think of cases of international conflict where, despite the silence of gunfire, tensions remain and discourse, an audible conversation, is necessary to begin to step towards peace. However, even in this, it seems to be an incomplete view of peace to see it as a goal where we will no longer need to speak or express conflict.

This brings me to another important aspect of peace that is rarely discussed. Even if one was willing to imagine perfect peace w/o quiet, we would assume that it would contain calm, consensus. No voices would be raised and differences would be bridged or negated. To me, as a student of culture, attempts to create peace by the elimination of dissent tend towards two goals: totalitarian control and apathy.

Neither of these seem to be desirable as a peaceful society or way of life. What does this mean for those of us who seek to follow the Prince of Peace, or even those of us who don't but want peace?

Obviously, I have no answers, just more questions. Fortunately for me, a number of ways of seeing the world of morals and ethics have elevated the importance of questioning over the importance of answering. This does not mean that we stop looking for answers, just that we cease to claim ownership of THE answers. I see a strong connection between this idea and that of peace.

Peace is not a dialectic, a conflict that we endure or synthesize in order to have a new and better peace. It is a constant questioning and discourse. Therefore, I envision peace as a rowdy discussion. The key between a brawl and peace is how the members of the sphere/community react to the disagreement with others. This does not mean that we accept everything that is objectionable. I, in fact, do not know what it would mean. That would be having an answer.

I don't know what this blathering means, but we must keep thinking and asking ourselves about the ways that we define concepts like peace, ethics, and justice. Any thoughts?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A couple weeks...

It HAS been a couple weeks since posting. However, as much as I love posting on the blog world, I have figured that keeping healthy, sane, and gainfully employed are all more important than ranting about my opinions.

Fortunately, soon my schedule with be more free soon, and I will be posting on some topics that have been in my head recently: Carter's book, the nature of peace, and more on my office walls (which now seem to alternate between breathing and chuckling).

I hope that the few of you who check with me regularly will keep coming back and feel free to post on these topics.

I would like to open up my blog to any potential topics that you might think are worthy of time and attention. Please post a comment on anything that you might want to hear me rant about. I would love you hear your opinion.

I had a tough experience yesterday that I wwould like to share. I gave back my students' papers, and I made the mistake of going against my rule to hand assignments back at the end of class.

My students were so plantive that I gave in. This resulted in one class of having a couple of my female students spending the hour weeping openly about their grades. I really felt for them.

One girl, who is one of the sweetest girls in my classes, had turned in a paper that was only half as long as the assignment called for, and I had no choice but to fail it. She sat through the class silently with tears streaming down her cheeks. I couldn't say anything to her because that would only single her out and make it even more obvious.

Sometimes teaching just sucks.