Why Not Try Peace?

Friday, 26th August 2016

From Aug. 26, 2016


Interesting article. There are precedents in Judaism, in Native American traditions, in some African traditions, and in various Anabaptist traditions, including my own Mennonite background, in the peace stand. Peace means more than pacifism in the limited “don’t go to war” sense, but it means peace-making, in some ways not far from the Jewish tikkun olam “repairing the world” idea. I’m always struck by how the arguments against this kind of community building are always extreme ones. What about Hitler? What about the person pointing a gun right at you? What about the Rwandan genocide? These arguments ignore the fact that 99% of life is not lived in those extreme moments, and if we lived by the peace principle in the times we can, the 1% of extreme circumstances might well go down to .001%. And we would have the benefit of dismantling an aggressive, over-reactive carceral state, and the very common overreactions of police and others to anyone who deviates in any manner from how people should look, sound, or behave. It is hard to see how police in the US can step back from their addiction to brutality and violence, short of what this article discusses.

Most people, if they hear the soundbite “abolish the police”, will think they know all they need to know about what these people are advocating, and will also think that they are crazy, reckless, or self-centered. But the position is more complex than the soundbite suggests. It is rooted in tried-and-true strategies for restorative justice, rather than the retributive justice (or revenge justice, more often) that we have now. It is the braver form of justice, one in which people are really willing to face those who have done wrong and those who have been wronged, rather than send the first away (or kill them), and stigmatize the second. There is nothing brave or heroic or manly about being able to pull a trigger or swing a club. The real bravery is in facing the threats to peace, and instead choosing peace.

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