Peace is an active, vibrant, creative way of living nonviolence for the well-being of all. It’s not stasis, limp, boring, predicable, or taking an easy way out. Peace is in motion, an ever-changing choice to do the difficult work of non-harming, specific to that situation and need. It includes risking vulnerability and risking mistakes in the effort toward sublime justice.
Peace is responsible, playful, joyful problem solving. It’s setting aside a desire to be superior while finding humble ground to share. Peace is being real and kind at the same time. It’s often portrayed as non-action or passive. But the peace I need is a nourishing basic substrate to do the hard work of true love in. It’s fertile ground for planting love. It’s not rolling over or weak–it’s the strongest thing in the world.
Peace is the deep hum I can trust to be in tune, so all the other notes I play are in tune also. It’s trustworthy to function from–a stable place to build a life.
Peace is what you’re creating by listening to what’s best for you and your community, and making choices to care, even when it means setting boundaries and saying no in a difficult way. Moving away, moving toward, trying something new, making change for the better. Thank you for choosing peace, and letting me watch the joy that unfolds.
Long ago I wanted to change my name to Peace. I felt called to do that, as peace was my most important goal. In a letter to a friend, I mentioned that if I could have any name I wanted, that would be my name. Then I realized I really could take that as my name, and I sort of did–not legally.
My legal last name is Taylor, which comes from my dad, but my dad and his side of the family don’t speak to me. I mean that figuratively but also literally. There’s history and white people back through time. I feel cautiously curious about them, but not a strong connection to kindle.
Peace was what I wanted to move toward. In a way, I didn’t really know what it was yet, those 12 years ago. I loved the concept vaguely, with a dictionary kind of definition, not yet deeply lived in my body. I’d not yet done anti-nuclear work, vigiled so vulnerably at an air force base, or been arrested for peace in direct action. I had no idea that was waiting for me.
I’d never met Ming. I liked relaxation, tie dye, new ideas, long hair, and holding hands with strangers. It’s ok, I loved peace so much while partly ignorant about it. Part of me did know it, before I knew it. But it feels good to look back and see how much I’ve learned.
Peace feels like a trustworthy type of happiness. Kind of how I experience God, or faith in my own soul. Moods and circumstances can come and go, but there’s something underneath that no one can mess with.
Peace is a good basis for doing everything else. Strangely, it can be used as a marketing tool, peace signs on fabric designs for summer clothes for cheeky children, or in a yuck way that twists its meaning, as in “peace keeping force.”
Or I saw it in my own family as “keeping the peace,” like bite your tongue till it bleeds. Pretend you don’t see the multiple elephants shitting all over the living room. There’s pacify, like to give someone something just to make them shut up.
But peace is the opposite of shutting up. It’s opening our mouths more and more to speak the truth. Power will take all it can take, so if we want to maintain any power of our own, we need to stand up for that.
I read a quote: If you’re a giver, decide how much you will give, because takers have no limits. It made me think of abusers, con artists, and the people who have come into my life, taken all they could get, and added insult to injury, until I showed them the door.
But the biggest takers in my life are not individual sociopaths–they are capitalism, war, all violence, pollution, hate–the forces that put the power and money of a few, over the needs of all beings and Mother Earth.
So peace is the shining well-being when I can joyfully rest knowing my life is good and things feel healthy interpersonally. But even more so, it’s something huge I work toward, with all the different kinds of work Ming and I do. Resisting capitalism for fun, radical mental health, street medics, Nevada Desert Experience, the Las Vegas Catholic Worker.
Thank you for being here for me, as I learn. Peace is possible because we create it. When I was a kid, I thought peace was tranquility, some guess at nirvana. The water when there is no storm–still and placid.
That can be appealing. But it’s a lot of work, getting to a resting place that makes sense and isn’t built on the un-rest of exploiting other people.