Two women standing next to each other posing

I’ve always wondered about the individuals who win the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m fascinated by their achievements, their sacrifice and their choices that brought unity between opposing parties and took us one step closer to reconciliation. 

I’ve always sought peace since I was a little girl. It’s not that I loathe conflict, nor am I afraid of it. I just love peace so much so that I’ll do anything to protect and preserve it. I love it when those around me are in harmony with themselves and each other. As mysterious as it is, peace simplifies and silences; it relaxes and restores and fixes chaos.

Peace simplifies and silences; it relaxes and restores and fixes chaos.

A few weeks ago, however, I realized there is a huge difference between being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker.

Let me paint a picture. I have a close group of girlfriends whom I’ve known for the best part of the last 10 years. We talk daily about anything from our burnt morning toast, to nights out and the latest in politics, culture or sustainable fashion. 

As we’ve grown older, we’ve developed from and outgrown our endearing teenager tendencies, matured into ambitious young women with healthy opinions and ideas about the world. We’ve traveled, explored, hurt, lost, loved and made both mistakes and great choices. We all have a lot to say about it.

Cue peacekeepers on high alert. This is where I will be most tempted to avoid weighing in on a subject (after it has left me in hot water on numerous occasions) because I don’t want to disrupt the harmony of the group.

The people who want to keep the peace no matter the cost are often those who sit by the fence. They are the compromisers, the keepers of the status quo. In debates, they’re the middle man. They’re the ones who avoid weighing in on a subject because their job isn’t to build or reform, it’s to protect. 

The people who want to keep the peace no matter the cost are often those who sit by the fence.

They are also often, unfortunately, a byproduct of what we call “cancel culture.” When we restrict someone’s freedom to contribute by deposing and exposing one other—no matter the opinion—we create a sea of homogenous commentators, a “mob mentality,” a group of serial speculators rather than an empathetic, intelligent and curious group willing to see from opposing perspectives. It kills creativity and true conversation.

Keeping the peace, as not to disturb anything or anyone, sadly does not build relationships. More often than not, it results in resentment, passive-aggressive communication and surface-level relationships.

Still not sure whether you’re a peacekeeper or peacemaker? Ask yourself this: Do I favor harmony or reform, change and justice? If you have found yourself in a similar boat as me, maybe, up until now, you have preferred keeping the peace rather than creating it. I have grown to realize that we need a world of peacemakers, and there is nothing passive about a peacemaker. 

Peacemakers are diligently and unapologetically committed to truth. 

The peacemakers I know are forerunners, moving head-long toward chaos, not away from it. They are willing to make peace with others, without affirming dysfunction or disrespecting another point of view. Peacemakers are diligently committed to truth. They express their ideas with dignity.

They carry the highest level of respect for others and are image bearers of a better standard. Their rebuttals are not cheap, nor do they denounce others for having a different opinion. Mostly, they demonstrate truth more than they speak it. 

[Peacemakers] demonstrate truth more than they speak it. 

Peacemakers engage in conversation, regardless of differences.

While being committed to truth, peacemakers know how to engage in conversation regardless of their opposition or opinion. They’re respectful, and, in turn, they garner respect. Their entire approach and demeanor is built on deep respect, honor and commitment to unity. They take time to think, be challenged and understand. 

Peacemakers bring solutions for the good of mankind.

Peacekeepers save face and protect themselves. Peacemakers initiate solutions that bring peace for the greater good of humanity. Peacemakers are standard-bearers, truth-seekers and culture-shakers. As I said above, peacemaking is active and creative.

Peacemakers are standard-bearers, truth-seekers and culture-shakers.

Peacemakers are good listeners and even better problem solvers.

Peacemakers stay in the game even when the opposition throws a weighty punch. Peacemakers know that there is something bigger at stake than their need to be right and are committed to listening wholeheartedly. As a result, they identify long-term solutions instead of temporary fixes. 

If we’re going to be women in the 21st century who catalyze transformation and innovation, we must be willing not just to protect but to make, build and establish peace wherever we are.

What is the difference between being passive and intentionally pursuing peace? How can you actively work toward justice and reform in your corner of the world?

Image via Erin Foster, Darling Issue No. 23

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