FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Becoming Peacemakers

by DEENA METZGER

In mid October, after Congress voted the unelected American President extensive war powers to inflict the nightmare of modern technology on Iraq, a dream taught me that spirits are real. A woman’s face appeared above me, her features perfect, her polished skin the color of olive wood, her face serene. You are a “peacemaker,” she said. “Yes.” I answered, “but I don’t know how to do it. Will you guide me?” I needed more than the theory and techniques of peacemaking; I needed hands-on direction.

This month, I have been grieved by the amount of mail that I have received that has chronicled arguments between people and organizations who have fallen into bitter disagreement about one issue or another though sharing at least one passionate point of affiliation on behalf of peacemaking and/or the environment. Reading these letters, I thought back to the dream and wondered how a peacemaker might respond?

If we are going to save anything, we must give up our insistence that we are the righteous and good ones, must relinquish our reflexive intention to gain, win, protect or impose our own position and truth. We must give up our reflexive defensiveness and its inevitable hostilities. We cannot continue to favor our own survival, safety and self-preservation over the survival of all. We cannot. We must not. This is the time for constant and repeated self-scrutiny in order to see where we are inadvertently contributing to the hostilities, and so losing sight of the essential places where we are in agreement and are inter-dependent. I am speaking now about our behavior as individuals as well as our behavior as a nation. Not, “I want” or “I believe,” but “How do we work this out?” We will be more successful when we begin to think consistently and reflexively in terms of mutuality, alliance and cooperation.

A respected friend said, “The bottom line is the earth, the preservation of the natural world.” She could have easily said, “The bottom line is peace for everyone and all beings and what contributes to it.” The power of alliance will come to us when we can agree on these bottom lines while very honestly recognizing that each of us has been given a different but effective vision of how to accomplish them. This is not the chaos described by the legend of the tower of Babel. This is the visionary wisdom of ecological models. In order for an ecosystem [and a human system] to survive and function extraordinary diversity is required. Vitality depends on each diverse eco-niche combining with all other diverse eco-niches to form the single piece of music we might call the natural world.

My colleague, Valerie Wolf, a dreamer in the Nez Perce tradition has also dreamed the advent of peacemaking spirits, as have others we know. What distinguishes these dreams is that they do not announce the appearance of a messiah, but offer individuals the role and responsibility of peacemaking.

Her dreams have led us to study the tradition of White Buffalo Woman, who brought the Sacred (Peace) Pipe and its practices to the Sioux. The Pipe ceremony enjoins us to pray for others, to be at peace with all things and within ourselves. The ceremony of the Pipe initiates one into peaceableness.

The question behind peacemaking is: How be consistently peaceable within oneself and with others? As a nation, we have a mistaken idea that peace can be achieved through the diplomatic efforts of intrinsically argumentative, belligerent people. We strategize peace without living it. We thrive on debate and conflict. We honor competition and winners. We define others as losers. Some of these ways are seemingly innocent but their far-reaching consequences are grave.

The cliche regarding American’s fascination with violence obscures its horrific reality. Violence is imprinted on each of our interactions. The media is saturated with it. Our economic, political and military policies systematically undermine all indigenous and wisdom traditions devastating peacemaking traditions everywhere. Despite our spurious rationales, we have made our lives, and lives all over the world, grotesqueries. We are responsible. That a nation, even the United States, ‘legally’ declares war or insists on the righteousness of extreme ‘defense’ policies does not justify anyone’s participation in such hostilities. International law, as established in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, asserted the primacy of individual responsibility.

As a child, I was taught that the Messiah would come when everyone was ready, that is at peace and living an ethical life. Being peaceable, a most difficult spiritual practice and way of life, is more difficult and demanding than warfare. Among other qualities, peaceableness accepts diversity. We need to awaken our hearts to other ways of seeing and being.

There is still time to change the trajectory, but no Messiah will save us though peacemaking spirits or peacemaking intelligence will probably appear to guide whomever volunteers his or her life. To have peace, we must have peaceable cultures and hearts first; to achieve these is a challenging inner adventure.

Cultures develop from the integrity of the innumerable lived details that underlie what is believed, taught, enacted, from the art created and the ways all beings are treated. At this time in human history, each individual’s original, daily, on-going contributions and commitment are critical.

***

As I was about to post this, I focused again on the heartbreaking divisiveness in our communities and realized that such behaviors occur when people are terrified, exhausted and hopeless or when they are traumatized. We are all being driven mad by the tension of the war mongering, the incitement and exaggeration of terrorism, the valorization of torture and destruction, the horrific possibility that the US might make pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, the horror of the erosion and destruction of our democracy, and what all of this might mean for each of us, our families and the people and beings in the rest of the world. So, in addition to everything we must do, let us be very kind to each other and forgiving and understanding of each other’s fears. Let us awaken our hearts to other ways of seeing and being.

If we ground ourselves in the future, rather than in history, decidedly imagining a vital future that includes the natural world and all of us, the task becomes easier. We see the future in our mind’s heart and we take the small next step that will enable us to get there together. This is the activity of radical hope.

Deena Metzger is the author of Entering the Ghost River. She can be reached at: deenametzger@earthlink.net

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail