During my senior year in high school I was a columnist for the school newspaper. For one issue, I got the idea to write an entire column that was just one sentence and to see if anyone noticed. What topic was so broad, so vague and nebulous, as to permit such a ruse? Peace, I decided. I composed a draft which some poor student teacher accidentally graded, thinking it was serious. I eventually wrote the column about something else and won an award for it, but I still occasionally wonder at the utter drivel I must have written the first time.
But it occurs to me peace is a temporal state that has a clear forerunner and clear descendant (hey, I’m always up to pontificate on this topic). The forerunner of peace is truth, or rather, truth is the origin of peace. I remember being rather amazed at the truth and reconciliation commissions of the past decades. You mean they just openly discuss all the crimes they did, and review the past, in an attempt to move past it and heal? But from all accounts it worked. That alchemical quality of a real solution, of an answer, drawn not from any specific “side,” but only from God. Only God knows truth, and when pure truth, or as pure as we get here on Earth, comes into play amazing things happen. However, truth is hard. It is also surprisingly quotidian, unremarkable, and complex. As any fiction reader knows, there is a lot of truth to be unpacked at any moment within anyone, and counterintuitively reading widely in serious literature will only deepen your knowledge of truth.
But peace is temporary unless people work to preserve it. It is subject to entropy. Peace requires mission. It requires vigilance, and renewal of covenantal values. It requires adults adulting, which is not in vogue. I was watching a 60 Minutes report about a school that took on teens at risk for gang violence. A graduate reported the school, which had saved his life, would no longer accept a kid like he once was. It had turned away from its mission, he claimed. Mission work, like truth, is also quotidian, unremarkable, and complex. My main memory from volunteering is not glory but all the joyful toil.
Peace does not come from the proverbial sky, it is created and preserved on earth by us, if we so wish.