A white cow is not a white dove, says Eduardo Embry, a Chilean poet based in the UK. A gracing pristine cow is heavy, and the meaning of peace is not to appease or to be appeased. By contrast, peace is not a given, but an ongoing process of understanding and doing together.
Peace has often been defined as the absence of war, and even more ironically as the outcome of war, as the Spanish poet Isabel del Rio points out.
But war does not bring peace; it brings destruction, pain and rage.
The recognition of diversity can help us think about peace in a different way.
Rather than simply envisioning peace as tranquillity and calm (which would imply that those who do not hold dominant voices remain quiet, silenced), peace entails the active process of engaging in dialogues and in collaborative work. As we acknowledge that human experience is diverse, we cannot assume any more that we will understand the perspectives of others as a given.
We need to listen, to reflect and to carefully make explicit our ideas and assumptions.
Peace involves dialogue in order to understand the underlying parameters of both ourselves and others about life and living.
Dialogue does not equal small talk, but entering into the terrain of the big questions and complex answers.
Dialogue is not only an articulation of words, but also the (sometimes difficult) acceptance that our strongest beliefs can be questioned by the realities of others.
We might learn that ‘reality’ is not what we had thought, and that there are more shades and shapes than the ones we could see before.
Most of us grew in worlds that were discriminatory in one way or another (discrimination of women, of certain races or ethnicities, cultures or kind of education, due to sexual orientation, disability or age, just to name some of the possible contexts in which you, myself or our common neighbour could have grown up). In contemporary societies, we need to engage in deep and lifelong learning processes about how to do things together.
Otherwise, peace would imply that we stop raising our voices or that we push others to keep silent, particularly those in the most vulnerable places in our contemporary societies.
Paradoxically, peace is not possible without justice.
For this reason, far from seeing resistance as a source of war or conflict, resistance entails the possibility of dialogue.
Resistance involves our participation in the definition of our common future (otherwise there is no future).
Therefore resistance is the power of raising our voices. While we accept our differences and refuse to accept that those who are in positions of power decide without taking our views into account.
Resistance entail our expressing what we think and where we want to go.
As we have witnessed in recent days through public demonstrations and protest e.g. Palestine, resistance points to the fact that our freedom and future cannot be built on the acceptance of genocide or the abuse of power.
‘Resistance’ is part of the processes of peace, as much as of the processes of light (i.e in the filament of a bulb), and the enlightenment of our future.