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Fists of Peace

I’m a bit late to comment on MLK Day this year. As a legendary proponent of non-violence, Reverend King is always relevant to one of my enduring questions: Why do men study war so much more than they study peace?

Any good question requires an investigation of the terms within it. What is peace? If King is held as an example, peace is certainly not without tension and strife. Peace is not calm. Not necessarily, at least.

What I had in mind for MLK Day was not one of the standard or even obscure quotes from King himself. Instead of a dream, I offer this:

Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the ability to handle conflict through peaceful means.

—Ronald Reagan

Peaceful means provide the only enduring solution to conflict. All the unpeaceful means merely shift conflict to another time or to another people. Whatever peace is, it requires willing and informed consent.

Conflict is unavoidable. Resolution is not always attainable. But if peace is desirable, we must pursue curiosity and conversation.

I hear too many of those quotes from Dr. King spoken with closed minds and clenched fists. Non-violence, or the ideal of non-violence, has become a club wielded by the righteous. They attempt to deny conflict, and therefore cannot resolve it.

I see strength. I do not see Strength to Love.