Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Peace Keeper or Peace Maker? by Carolyn

One of the several sticky notes currently on my computer at work says, "peace keeper or peace keeper?" It is there to remind me to think about that: Am I a peace keeper or a peace maker?

So, which am I? Which should I be? I suspect that the correct answer to the second question is that being a peace maker is superior to being a peace keeper. Which worries me, because I suspect I am more of the latter than the former.

The implication (in my mind at least) seems to be that a peace keeper is willing to compromise on anything to bring about a cessation of hostilities; to placate others by giving up her principles. In short, by selling out just for the sake of avoiding conflict. Have I ever done that? I suspect I have. Maybe more than once.

I imagine that it is more heroic, more morally advanced, a higher calling, to be a peace maker. So, what does that mean? To me, a peace maker would be someone who can bring people with disparate views or beliefs together to reach a consensus which satisfies everyone. Maybe even more than that - a peace maker creates an environment in which people who would normally disagree about the color of the sky will collaborate to craft a solution, a process, a new reality in which they work together to achieve a higher purpose.

So, how would you go about that? What happens when two viewpoints are diametrically opposed? How do you make peace then? Can you force people to see other perspectives? (If so, that would solve a lot of problems in the world, I think.) How do you find the common ground when there seems to be no common ground? How does the "win/win" solution come about when parties are more concerned with "I win/you lose"?

The sad truth is, I have no idea how to go about persuading people to change their minds if they aren't inclined to do so. I am no silver-tongued orator, nor am I blessed with the gift of charismatic appeal. Perhaps I am fated to always be a peace keeper instead of a peace maker.

-Carolyn

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