My wife and I recently joined a relatively new organization on the American scene called the Better Angels. Its mission is to depolarize America. Perhaps you already know of it, but if not then you may check it out here. https://www.better-angels.org
One of the co-founders of this organization is a Psychologist on faculty at the University of Minnesota named Bill Doherty. I’ve long admired Dr. Doherty’s work as one of our country’s leading voices in the Family Therapy movement. On attending his workshops on marital therapy, I’ve always rated him top of scale.
The Better Angels workshop Bill Doherty has designed for today’s conflicted people of America is, in my own humble opinion, a 5-star event on any scale of quality measurement. It is designed to help conservatives and liberals achieve peace and to, if the metaphor is at all correct, avoid divorce as a nation of Disunited States of America. For those flagwavers among us, it is designed to help us be “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In case that pledge to our common flag still means anything to those who would carry it.
Peace, whether marriage or country, is always possible. It is always a choice.
What must be understood about peace, however, is that it, too, is at war.
Peace is always at war against Power. It is a social movement for loving influence. And that movement is itself always at war against fearful control. Said differently, love is always at war against fear. And, still differently, peace is always counter-cultural because it is counter-intuitive. It is the loving influence of our own better angels, opposing our fear of losing control.
To mix metaphors, peace is the underdog in our election between peace and power.
Chances are high that you, while reading this, have not clearly thought of peace in this way before. Even if you’ve found yourself praying for peace, marching for peace, working for peace in some other way, you like all the rest have not accepted that your peace in this world literally depends upon your own powerlessness. This includes your peace of mind. Only as we change our minds from a belief system that values power over others to one where, by faith, we receive our power instead by first empowering others; only then can we find true peace of mind.
That’s a lot to grasp, I realize. In fact, this is where most of us tune out and give up and stay with what we’ve already known. Even if that isn’t working to give us the very peace of mind we are seeking.
As an old peacnik myself back in the Vietnam (“conflict”) era, I used to join in singing that marching lyric, “all we are saying is give peace a chance.” Yet, what even we as young idealists then failed to grasp is that the price of peace is our full surrender of power “over” others we disagree with. The better angels of our human nature encourage us even today to pay this price. And to get out and vote today.
And to elect for ourselves peace, not power, that by paradox and counter-intuition and counter-culture, we might finally realize that true power comes from our empowerment of others. Our listening to their voices. Our respecting of their “differentness.” Our empathy with their emotions. Our heart to heart understanding instead of head to head agreement. That’s what empowerment of others looks like. And the more we give-away the more we get-back in return.
Today’s election returns? They will depend on how each one of us votes. Every vote counts. And the candidates are the same in each daily election: Peace With or Power Over.
So let’s get out the vote today. And may the best candidate win!