Peace. It's a simple word. But, then, is it? Synonyms for peace are: harmony, tranquility, calm, serenity, and unity. For me these words conjure images of people holding hands, soft green grass underfoot, cerulean sky above, and upturned smiles sprayed with rays of tangerine sunlight. But does such a thing exist outside of Coke commercials and movies? I wonder.
The reality seems to be that conflict comes as naturally to Man as breathing. Most of our entertainment is based on conflict; game shows, reality shows, books, movies of all genres, and plays have at their core some type of dramatic conflict that keeps viewers coming back for more. In sports we speak of rivalries, and personal conflict between two or more players only ups the entertainment value. Dugout clearing fights on the baseball diamond are enough to get even those least interested in sports to watch the highlight reel on Sports Center. Conflict is the core of soap operas, women's and men's (for men's soap operas read Professional Wrestling here), water cooler gossip, and the ten 'o clock news. Even the bible, if taken on its historical merit alone, is rife with personal, political, and religious conflict. It's inescapable, it seems.
We've all seen the bumper stickers proclaiming "Give Peace a Chance", or "☮ Back By Popular Demand", but does anyone really think about what it means when they see them? Would Lennon, if he were alive today, think that we, the human race, have made any progress towards his song's end?And do the people who display such stickers even practice what they preach 100% of the time? Is there any room for hypocrisy when it comes to the ideal of peace?
One could argue that Man is competitive by nature, and that competition always involves a sort of conflict. But without this competitive spirit, Man may never have risen from the primordial murk to walk on two legs. And if we are going to bring the science of evolution into the argument, perhaps it is only a question of time before Man reaches the pinnacle of civilization and attains a level of peace unknown to previous generations. If this is the case, do we wait for it to happen? Or do we strive for it though the reality of it may be centuries away?
Perhaps in the end, the answer is almost as clichéd as the bumper stickers mentioned above. Lead by example. Pay it forward. We as individuals are responsible and in control of our own actions. And if we choose to use this power in a way that positively affects our daily lives, then perhaps it will affect those around us in the same way. And in a way, without conflict, we may encourage a step towards that lofty ideal of peace, one family, one community at a time.
So smile! It's contagious.
Kirk (doing his best to take his own advise) out.