One of my goals for this year is to spend time focusing on the core Quaker principles of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality.  That is, I want to spend time contemplating those principles and striving to cultivate them in my life.

I haven’t been very deliberate about that yet so far this year. Lately it seems I haven’t had time to contemplate much more than getting chores done and dealing with all our new goats.

This morning I’m thinking about peace.

Peace, in the Quaker witness, means more than just a commitment to non-violence and an opposition to war (although it does include those things, of course). More than just an absence of war, true peace requires the presence of justice, of equality, of a recognition of our common humanity. It includes a sense of shared community, where all are valued and cared for. It is akin to the Hebrew concept of “shalom,” which means peace but also, more broadly, harmony.

It’s not enough just to find a way to separate myself from conflict.  True peace, it seems to me, cannot be achieved in isolation from the other core principles–simplicity, integrity, community and equality.

There is peace that comes from nonviolence.  There is also peace that comes from simplicity and integrity, and peace that comes from community and equality.

I like to imagine a world with all of humanity united in a shared commitment to that kind of peace.

May it be so.

22 comments on “Peace

  1. Joanna says:

    Amen! I think I need to do a little cultivating of peace too. Thanks for the reminder


    • Bill says:

      It seems to me peace is a tough crop to grow. It’s so much easier to cultivate anger and conflict. But as a wise man wrote, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” 🙂


  2. avwalters says:

    Bringing intentionality to your daily tasks, especially when you’ve already chosen a simpler life, should go a long way towards peace. Oh, and watching those kids can’t hurt…


  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, Yes, peace. I found that contentment has a lot to do with personal peace. I try my best to present internal peace in a way that would help my realm of influence be a better place. Many times my presence in a situation will bring calmness and lower stress levels in other people. How does that happen? I don’t know have a clue how that happens. I’m just an ordinary guy trying to get through life the best way I can. I’ve learned over the years that peace in life doesn’t necessarily mean a life of poverty and having no worldly possessions or a life of isolation from the world. It means to me a life of outward caring about those around me. Many times my daily schedule is interrupted by folks that need help or just a listening ear. A hug at just the right time can do mountains of good toward peace in one person’s life. I’ve learned that one act of peace can become infectious and spread far beyond my realm of influence. Peace doesn’t mean that all stress or busy schedule is eliminated but that the stress and schedule doesn’t control my emotions. Peace does not mean lack of emotion either which was my goal some years ago. For me striving for peace will be a life long desire to obtain.

    Have a great peaceful day.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks for the great comment Dave. The kind of peace that I think we should be striving for is so much more than just our own personal sense of serenity. That is important, of course, but it is a selfish kind of peace if it is all we want. Spreading peace in the ways you mention seems better to me than just trying to achieve a personal comfort level. I like to think that homesteading is a good way to cultivate the values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality. Trying to do it mindfully of the impact our daily choices have on the lives of other people, other creatures and the environment generally taps into the broader issues for which true peace is concerned. A life-long striving indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nebraskadave says:

        I so agree with your comment. Urban gardening is like homesteading on a smaller scale. It’s already made a difference in the neighborhoods that have my gardens. Since I garden in non traditional ways it gives me a chance to talk about home grown food with neighbors and even city workers and police have stopped to talk about what going on in my gardens. It’s a great way to get to know people in a neighborhood.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. BeeHappee says:

    Bill, here is one for you about Peace and War. .

    Peace And War
    ~ Khalil Gibran

    Three dogs were basking in the sun and conversing. The first dog said dreamily, “It is indeed wondrous to be living in this day of dogdom. Consider the ease with which we travel under the sea, upon the earth and even in the sky. And meditate for a moment upon the inventions brought forth for the comfort of dogs, even for our eyes and ears and noses.”

    And the second dog spoke and he said, “We are more heedful of the arts. We bark at the moon more rhythmically than did our forefathers. And when we gaze at ourselves in the water we see that our features are clearer than the features of yesterday.”

    Then the third dog spoke and said, “But what interests me most and beguiles my mind is the tranquil understanding existing between dogdoms.”

    At that very moment they looked, and lo, the dog-catcher was approaching.

    The three dogs sprang up and scampered down the street; and as they ran the third dog said, “For God’s sake, run for your lives. Civilization is after us.”


    • Bill says:

      It calls to mind something in Daniel Quin’s Ishmael. An anthropologist somehow travels back in time a half billion years and interviews a jellyfish (it being the only life form he recognized). He asked the jellyfish if there was an account of creation in its culture.

      “The universe,” it said, “was born a long, long time ago, perhaps ten or fifteen billion years ago. Our own solar system–this star, this planet and all the others–seem to have come into being some two or three billion years ago. For a long time, nothing whatever lived here. But then, after a billion years or so, life appeared.”

      “For many millions of centuries the life of the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But little by little, more complex forms appeared: single-celled creatures, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on.”

      “But finally,” the creature said, turning quite pink with pride as he came to the climax of his story, “but finally, jellyfish appeared.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurie Graves says:

    Nice post! I especially like your take on how peace is more than just the absence of war.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks. In 1947 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Quakers, the only time it’s ever been given to a religious denomination to the best of my knowledge. Their peace testimony goes beyond just opposing war and violence. That’s where I got the idea and it reminded me of the concept of “shalom.”


  6. May it be so. –Curt


  7. Sarah says:

    Peace is on my mind a lot these days too, as well as the point you raise about it not being enough to separate oneself from conflict. I tend to have such a hard time engaging in effort/struggle around social or environmental change without being emotionally swept up and losing contact with my inner peace.

    This has caused me to often engage less in working for peace, social justice, environmental justice, etc. in the name of holding onto inner peace. I am searching for ways to do both more effectively.


    • Bill says:

      I hear you. As much as I know that activism is important to bringing about change, I have trouble engaging on political and social issues without finding myself getting angry and tense. I do not get the sense that I’m helping cultivate peace when I argue with someone about war, for example.

      I admire people who seem able to maintain personal peace and a sense of joy even while not avoiding that kind of conflict. The Jesuit peace activist Fr. John Dear comes to mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. EllaDee says:

    When events/media news give me cause to wonder at the existence of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality in others, I so often feel hopeless and helpless but then I look for it in myself and know it’s there which reassures my that although not necessarily evident it still exists although somewhat less than ideally expressed-executed.


    • Bill says:

      Of course if throughout the world there were nothing but people living lives of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality, that would be considered a slow news day.


  9. associatedluke says:

    Peace is not the absence of conflict, it’s what you do in the midst of conflict. I’m striving for this and with you 100%


  10. MansWhirld says:

    It seems, to me, that withdrawing from conflict can induce tranquility, but peace is, like you say, an active participation in achieving (and extending) grace in the midst of conflict.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s