Peace is not a commodity

It’s too easy for us today to say this word, Peace. It feels to me that just about anyone can now stand up and say that they are working for peace even when their actions are furthest from it. It’s not right that peace should be so cheapened.  When people bandy that word about, it makes me picture factory villages with women sweating over big fires as they manufacture peace by the truckloads to be taken down to the plains or to the hills as the demand might be.

“Peace is a message to be conveyed to others from the core of the heart,” writes Bijoykumar, a Manipuri poet. What is the core of our heart saying? The core of the Naga heart? Is it continuing to judge and find fault with others? Then there is not much peace there. If peace is a message from the core of the heart, then whatever else is found in the heart, if it does not bring comfort and solace, it is definitely not peace.  

Peace is not a call to take up arms, or to establish one group over another group.  Nor can we bring peace by force and coercion. Certainly not by violence. The Prince of Peace came as the most harmless and most vulnerable of creatures: a new born child. 

Peace is by nature vulnerable. It risks being broken and being cast out, trampled on the ground. It risks being misinterpreted and being thought cowardly.  

But real peace will make its enemies weep in remorse. Real peace will bring change of heart and renewal of the human spirit. In the absence of that, we will end up with constructed peace, seminars and conferences on peace and debates that lead nowhere. And while efforts to construct peace by enacting meetings between former enemies are all very good, it is also hard because peace-building has so much to do with the spirit that it does not happen when it is solicited.  

Peace is spiritual, and therefore materialistic approaches towards bringing peace are going to be doomed to failure. It can’t be concocted up. Its chief quality is to attract others to itself. People see when you have peace in your mind and heart. They are drawn to you because they want what you have, and though you cannot give it to them, you can show them how to get it. 

“My peace I give to you,” – it is peace in the midst of, not peace after something has happened, not peace when the perpetrators of violence have finished their work and gone away. That kind of peace is not real, because you would always be living in dread and expectation of the next violent event to happen which robs you of your peace. Real peace is the sustaining power for your spirit. It is the part of you that will keep repeating, like a record stuck in a groove, and going on,“It will be allright, everything will be fine.” That is real peace; it is empowering and transcendental. It is the peace that passes human understanding. The peace that carries us over.  

No, peace is not a commodity. It is something that comes to take up residence in our hearts, and teaches us to be more concerned about others than ourselves. It teaches us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us and to return good for evil. It’s nearly impossible to fulfill, but peace is not possible if we think in terms of activity. We don’t do peace: we can only choose to live peace, but that is the only way by which real peace can come, and that is the real form of peace.