“The one who has peace among his own mind, body, and spirit; who enjoys unity among his whole-being can only be a peacemaker. He is a person whose body follows his mind which decides to execute what is right and just according to the yearning of his spirit.”
A peacemaker’s life isn’t easy. Nah. It never is. Yet, a peacemaker is always the solution. Someone who could sing harmony in a room of conflict or who could stand and deliver a statesman in the Gaza strip – that, of course, is beyond our means. We all search for a peacemaker never realising ‘peace comes from within’. And this is a phrase we have heard since our teens. A peacemaker needn’t necessarily be a middle man or someone who connects estranged hands. You and I can be peacemakers too. Anyone who tries and succeeds in conquering one’s own conflict and controls lust is also a peacemaker.
But more often than not we need a peacemaker to help us reap value of that hidden peace within us. Like James and Jenny needed one to help solve their inner conflicts and hate for each other. Jenny and James are part of a five-sibling family brought up by a single mother. Their mother, Lima, lost her husband when her youngest was two days old. James and Jenny are just five years apart neither is the oldest or the youngest.
Her five kids were Lima’s only family. She was their mother and their father. It was obvious that they were all affectionate and caring for each other, but James and Jenny were special. They shared a strange and sweet connection. Both looked out for each other. They were partners in crime – like sharing stolen fried fish from the kitchen or running away with jelly gums from a shop. They were each other’s protector when required. Jenny would often take blame for James’ ‘mischiefs’ and when James found out Jenny had committed some wrongdoing, he would hurry to clean it up.
Things though aren’t the same any more. 26 years have passed and James and Jenny haven’t spoken in the last 4 years. No, the right sentence is ‘they don’t talk to each other’. Their connection of childhood is now a tale for the memory. James got married and has two kids. Jenny the same. But Jenny is also divorced or as she calls it ‘free from a meaningless relationship.’
Her husband was a middle-class man with a government job. They lived happily for six years but it was at the start of the final five that things turned sour. An 11-year marriage eventually ended in a court room. Now, Jenny’s husband was a friend of James. They had worked together in the same company for some time in the past. Jenny loathed her brother for not telling her about the affair.
But James had always tried to save the marriage. Was he aware of any affair? He didn’t think he knew of any such thing. To him his friend was a ‘just man’. But Jenny scorned at him for that too. “You sided with him when I needed you most,” she once shouted at her brother. James now felt Jenny was too dominating and stubborn. He married two years after his younger sister. And for a year, he had rented a room in Jenny’s house where she earlier lived with her husband. Her two kids are her only company now.
James left the house after a year with his sister’s marriage in disarray. He never tried to reconcile his sister’s failing marriage. “She’s too stubborn. Always wants a ‘yes man’,” he would tell his wife Cathy whenever they talked about Jenny and the divorce. During that year in Jenny’s house, he would often hear Jenny and Selaman (Jenny’s husband) arguing through the night. Selaman came late night on most days and he was drunk. But he wasn’t a regular drunkard when James had first met him. A fine young man with so much talent the world could be at his feet.
They bonded well and Selaman confided in James, his best friend. Even after his divorce Selaman and James remained friends. His sister’s husband spent after office hours at the pub. He didn’t want to go home that early. Curious, James once asked “why?” Selman told him there was no love at home. Jenny would shout at him over silly things. They argued more than talking. The kids weren’t allowed to meet if he came home late. This was when the marriage was still living – slowly cracking but still remediable.
Today the marriage is a thing of the past. Jenny’s kids often visit the house. But she doesn’t. James does the same when he takes his family over. Usually, he returns back home after dropping them. One day, Jenny’s son dragged him to the house. Jenny forced a sweet on his mouth that day. Their eyes had lighted with tears (no this isn’t a melodrama). But that was it. The relationship looked beyond repair.
But he missed his little sister. You bet, she did too. They both found a good communicator in Cathy (James’s wife). Every time she visited Jenny, James would warn her: “don’t get into any argument just hear and nod. Please do not react she will get angry.” He thought Jenny was still stubborn.
Cathy once asked Jenny “why don’t you reconcile with James?” “Why should I,” Jenny had said. “He is the big brother he should.” James thought something similar – She’s younger, she should first. This fight wasn’t just for Selaman but for things beyond it. Jenny thought her brother knew about an affair. That he knew Selaman drank before the wedding and above all James knew that he wasn’t the right man for her. But he didn’t…
James knew more. He knew why Selaman drank. He knew why Jenny hated her ex-husband and he knew why they separated. But he wished he never knew Selaman. Perhaps Jenny shouldn’t have married Selaman. A broken marriage then wouldn’t have resulted in a strained brother-sister relationship.
Neither were willing to stretch the hand of reconciliation. They needed a peacemaker. What they didn’t know was the peacemaker was already at work. Cathy didn’t want her husband to regret a friendship, regret one decision and live with a broken relationship with his dear sister. She didn’t want her children deprived of their aunt’s love ,- an aunt, who made the best kheer (rice pudding). She would often call Jenny and ask about her childhood memories with James.
At bed, James would often discuss Jenny and the happy times the siblings shared growing up – something that seemed a distant memory now. Both James and Jenny regretted not talking to each other. But neither would take the first step. Cathy knew she couldn’t force nor could she intervene. Time is a healer. No one realised when phone conversations with Jenny became group conversations with James and Jenny. Sometimes the kids would join. Of course, their other siblings did too.
One day, Cathy was at Jenny’s place and suddenly the phone rang. Ohh, Jenny’s phone it was. The caller name said ‘mischief’. Cathy recognised the number, Jenny did too. That was the first call James had made to Jenny in four years and 23 days. Cathy remembers it well. James hadn’t called to apologise to his little sister. The call was on Jenny’s phone because Cathy’s number was unreachable.
That was the first step, Cathy believes. She notes down “No one forced, yet it happened.” Cathy is writing a book sitting in a coffee shop. Her friend asks “why ‘mischief’?” Because James was always mischievous. “So were you the peacemaker, then,” her friend continued. Cathy said ‘no!’ “I was just the person both needed to realise their importance in each other’s life.”
Just then James called her to remind she had to reach his office in an hour with the children. They were going home to celebrate Jenny’s 36th birthday. She bid her friend goodbye and got into the cab. As she shut the door, a thought hit her mind. Cathy takes out a diary and writes “A Peacemaker.”
(Author: Joseph Biswas)
Every time I am angry with someone, I prefer not to talk with the person concerned. It’s easy and gives you time to re-think. Also, instead of engaging in endless arguments, it’s better to give your mind some peace. Time acts as a healer and things gradually normalize.
Yes, silence often works as a great peacemaker, but not always. Some situations require peacemakers who work as a catalyst to make the sour talks sweeter. And the moment I think of peacemaker, my cousin sister Kuljeet’s name immediately pops up into my mind. Whenever I am angry with anyone, I let her know and she has the perfect logic which works each time. Lending an ear to your problems and solving them is so easy for her. I often yell at my kids when they fight, which is the easiest thing to do, but I also remember the way Kuljeet used to handle her sons when they used to quarrel. She used to talk to them individually, then together, and sought out the differences. With both the sons crying and shouting simultaneously, I wish I could calm them down the way she used to do.
A few years back, I was having some real issues and was frequently quarreling with my husband. I immediately told Kuljeet and she was all ready to calm me down and listen to my woes. She made me understand where I was at fault. I worked upon those things and everything became perfect.
I have been in many circumstances where conflicting views result in a feud and I always found it difficult to be a peacemaker there and preferred to escape from the situation. After all, who wants to be a punching bag?
Not everyone can be a peacemaker and blessed are those who can be one, because without them it won’t be possible to heal the relations!
Ever imagined a world without conflict, division, war, hatred and strife – where peace, tranquility and harmony reign over every heart and soul? Utopian fantasy, some would say!
Rightly so, considering the quantum of chaos and discord all around – deep inside the mind, in the family, at the workplace, in social structures and in the world at large – peace seems to be as elusive as the silver lining beneath the dark cumulo-nimbus clouds that augurs hope but then slips into oblivion.
A world that was groaning and moaning in the aftermath of two World Wars has been spared of a third one till date, thanks to the astute role of the United Nations which deserves a fair share of credit for achieving the purpose of its inception to a great extent. However, the world has not been completely rid of wars and conflicts. We still have heart wrenching graphic images and stories of strife-torn countries, broken families and lost lives.
What we need to understand is that as long as there are disparities and divisions, there will be conflict. And, such credentials will continue to be companions of the world as long as it exists.
Taking an example, close to home – think of sibling rivalry. Why does it happen? It happens when one child ‘perceives’ his/ her sibling/s as being loved or attended to more than self. In case such a perception is real, the rivalry stays on along the years and continues into adulthood and may be the cause of deep-rooted enmity between/ among siblings. If such a perception is faulty, then parental intervention helps dissipate the apprehension and restore peace.
This is true for every other spectrum and all relationships that we can think of.
Ronald Reagan said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
So then, if differences create strife and differences cannot be completely gotten rid of, can peace be ever attained?
Peace is an internal construct. It is not an external construct that needs to be attained by certain means. We cannot attain peace by doing or not doing certain things. It is purely a gift of the Spirit of God to man. But, our actions sure play important parts in helping to retain or renounce peace in our lives and in that of others.
The story is told of a man who was in the quest of peace. He quit his job and started on his hunt for peace. Each morning he left home and wandered far and near to catch hold of peace which he could then spread everywhere. But, each evening he returned home disillusioned and got into drunken brawls with his wife. The rapidly depleting resources soon brought them to a point of mounting debts and starvation until one day the young wife, moments before breathing her last sighed, “Ah! Peace at last!” But before she could explain what this peace was, to her husband, she drifted off into the other world, leaving him alone to continue his quest for peace.
And so go on the stories of many men who wander off to attain peace and in the process drift even farther from it, while all the time it is very much within them.
With conflict continuing to reign massively in the world, each one of us can be peacemakers in the roles that we play. But, so as to be peacemakers we must first have peace within us. Without our own internal peace, all our efforts in peace-making no matter how sincere they may seem, would end up being fruitless. Peace within, would create the desire to see peace restored everywhere.
Calming down heated arguments and signing peace pledges may give us the satisfaction of playing significant roles in restoring peace, but these are simple indications of the soul within that has been designed for retaining and yearning for peace.
More than being a virtuous act, it is indeed a blessing to be a peacemaker. The Bible says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Even as we strive to be peacemakers, let us first receive the gift of peace from God.
In my imaginative visit, I was in the shopping mall with my Dad and I got attracted towards the luxurious bone china made Nymphenburg Adonis dinnerware, as I proceed towards the crystal glass made dinnerware shelf, I thought to hold it and feel the touch but as a result, being a kid I was unable to balance the weight of the serving bowl and it fell from my hand.
The noise of breaking the bowl alarm the salesman, he yelled and took me to the manager. I was fined to pay the cost of the complete dinner set but I am just a kid, even it is impossible for me to have at least 50 bucks in my pocket, how can I pay Rs. 16,100/-.
At that point, my father had to jump into the picture to pay the wages of my mistake. He apologized to the manager, paid for my mistake and took me home. He was unhappy with my action yet he understood my weakness and absurdity.
As we drove back, he just smiled at me and said,
“SON, I EXPECT YOU WILL NOT REPEAT YOUR MISTAKE”.
Meera was a dusky, beautiful and introvert girl from a conservative family who was a fresher in Engg college when Manan saw her and fell for her head over heels, not wasting any time to woo her, win her heart, propose to her and persuade her to say yes with his charming looks and flamboyant ways in a way that she fell deeply in love with him.
The four years of college went by in a flurry as good times pass in a blink of an eye but they were the most beautiful four years of Meera’s life as her love and cared for Manan only kept growing manifolds with each passing day and she almost became a shadow to Manan, a point she marked by setting her ringtone to her favourite song “Tu jahaan jahaan chalega, Mera Saaya Saath Hoga…”, something she often hummed for him as she was an old school girl who loved old Hindi movie songs.
They both got placed in different jobs, in different cities and went their ways with promises to stay in touch and meet often but as luck would have it, on the first day of his new job, Manan met Kalandi, an outgoing, stunning fashionista who was a ball of energy and a complete contrast to Meera and Manan couldn’t help but get swept off his feet by her outspoken and candid personality and soon forgot about Meera.
He tried to keep things normal with Meera for first few months but she was quick to sense the change in his words and his tones and Manan knew he wouldn’t be able to hide his disinterest in Meera for long and one fateful day he broke the news of having met Kalandi to Meera who was crestfallen and devastated but keeping her dignity intact hung up the call in tears, never to call Manan again who was indeed quite relieved to have the burden off his chest.
Manan married Kalandi, had a blissful honeymoon in Greece and returned to start his new life with the women of his dreams but the thought of Meera and what he did to her never left him, it was eating him up from inside but he drowned the inner voice of his soul in living a buzzing and high life with Kalandi who knew nothing about Meera and Manan nor bothered to tell her about his affair with Meera neither ever tried to know what became of Meera.
A couple of months later Kalandi fell ill as was admitted to the hospital where she recovered within a week and was discharged soon, but she was no more the same girl whom he married, intact she was becoming more and more like Meera with each passing day and that made Manan restless to the limits that he tried to enquire about Meera finally But was only met with dead ends.
A week later Manan was sitting in a cab on his way to office, already troubled by Kalindi’s behaviour, when he picked a discarded newspaper from the next seat and started reading it when his eyes habitually fell on the obituary section, and him was shocked to see Meera’s obituary who committed suicide a fortnight ago, Manan was overcome by nausea and immediately called Kalandi but the phone fell from his hand on hearing her new caller tune that rang in his ears….
“Tu agar udaas hoga, To udaas hongi Main bhi…
Nazar Aaj ya na aau, Tere paas hongi Main bhi…
Tu Kahin bhi Jaa rahega, Mera saaya saath hoga…
Tu jahaan jahaan chalega, Mera saath saath hoga…”
(Should you ever become sad, then it will make me sad too because I desire to share your sorrow,
Whether you see me or not, I will always stand by you,
Wherever you live where you stay, I will always follow you; I can’t let you feel alone.
Wherever you go my essence shall follow you…)
He puffed a cigarette and exhaled a circle of smoke hoping to see her on the other side with a pinched nose and her hand waving to break this smoky cloud.
He wanted to hear her say one last time, “Sweeto, I am telling you I will really dump you if you don’t quit smoking.”
But it was too late, she had quit him before he could quit smoking. She had quit this world and vanished into the smoke that rose from the dead.
Life may not give you a second chance. Be good and do good.
DO IT NOW.