Saturday, July 13, 2013


"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

I'm new to peace and it's embarassing to admit. I don't know if that statement even makes sense.

Throughout my life I've never been shy about violence. I've thrown punches in anger and in defense of myself and other people. Sometimes it was justified but in every time I have eventually hated myself for doing it. Even while having so much of my life renewed by the message of the Gospel, thoughts of real peace lagged behind, frustratingly.

While it's possible to point to a number of factors in my life that may have contributed to it, the only person responsible was me.

It wasn't just personal peace that I had problems with, I had problems with peaceniks in general. I can and do point to my own father for this influence. My Goldwater Republican father hated hippies but for some reason found himself choosing the VW Microbus as our family transportation. Sure, it was practical for a family of 5 for sure but our ride also attracted plenty of "peace signs" from hippies thoughout the Western United States and Canada on our long road trip vacations. My dad would wave his fist at them while they flashed two fingers thinking we were with them. I can assure you that we were not.

Later when confronted with the prospects of joining the Libertarian Party back about 20 years ago, all that was required was signing a statement that "I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals." It was enough to not sign it. I'm still not a member.

Every "Imagine World Peace" or "Free Tibet" bumpersticker made me roll my eyes at how naive pacifism was in general...and sometimes still does. I never once considered what was achieved through peaceful civil disobedience. I look back and can see that I took a lot of things for granted.

It wasn't long before I began to see movements like the entire Civil Rights Movement and other great demonstrations of civil disobedience for what they really were. The rest of our society watched while deciding that even if we didn't agree with someone else, we weren't willing to subject them to violence to stop them. What first results from peaceful demonstrations is that peaceful people, who have hurt no one, are locked in a cage for simply not consenting to be governed in a certain way. Nothing is more American in my view.

Libertarians are often accused of over simplifying problems with easy bake non-aggression principles. I think the same type of accusation could (and often should) be made of those who reach for faceless intervention (force) before anything else. But peace is one area that I think does not need to be complicated much.

I follow videographer, Dave Ridley who films in public spaces and is often confronted by law enforcement and told to turn off his camera. He often responds "Will you hurt me if I don't?" Almost always the law enforcement deescalates the situation because they understand that he's not doing anything that deserves violence. Requests to stop filming typically end also.

So what do I make of peace now? I desire it even when my own failings don't allow for it or when my demeanor is imperfect and I'm being a jackass. I'm growing in peace a little more every day. That, I'm not embarassed to admit.