At a BIMA (Belief in Mediation and Arbitration) breakfast yesterday morning someone observed that 'peace just doesn't have a strong brand.'
I agree. Imagine if we collectively focussed on the look, feel, sound and experience of Peace. Imagine if we gave it as much air time and attention as we give to ordinary people baking the most succulent cake, or celebrities sweating to perfect their pirouettes.
Night after night we watch people on TV grappling with the challenge of unhealthy bodies, failed DIY projects, or nasty neighbours. We watch because we want to see the happy ending. We know there will be one, because that's the formula. We wipe away a tear when a grateful family moves into a house that the whole community has knocked down and rebuilt to enable a disabled child to come home from hospital. But these are not really endings. What we've witnessed is a beginning. The feelings we experience tap into our fundamental needs for purpose and for hope.
We don't require a complicated scoring system to know what good looks like for the most ordinary things in life; a fluffy cake, a smooth turn, a welcoming home. But we do need to invest time and energy into creating them.
Peace is not just the absence of something. It's not the leftovers after the nasty neighbours have stopped fighting over the fence.
We wish people a good morning and a good night. Jewish people greet with the word Peace and Muslim people with Peace be upon you. The Irish greeting is translated as God be with you.
We need to start making these greetings come true. Let's start creating positive pictures and a shared understanding of what Peace looks, sounds and feels like; in families, in communities, in nations. Then we might decide it's worth investing our time and energy in creating it, whether we label it Shalom, Satta, Salama, Friede, Mir, Santi, Siochain, Hasiti or Pace.