Are we peace makers or peace fakers? There are times when, instead of doing the hard work of reconciliation and peacemaking, we sweep problems under the rug and equate a lack of outright confrontation with peace. When we fake peace, however, we may prolong the pain of the conflict, preventing the needed resolution because of our unwillingness to be brave and confront what is wrong. Continue reading Peace Makers or Peace Fakers?→
Backwater hicks. Rednecks. Trash. Uneducated hillbillies. I have heard all these labels and more applied to people in rural areas. People dismissed simply because of their postal code.
Having spent most of my life in small towns and rural areas, I have come to love living close to nature, to farms, open fields and big skies. When I think of the many farmers I have known, there is a deeply profound wisdom that comes from their lives.
Most of the farmers I have known are simple and beautiful people. They work hard, they love their families, and they enjoy their lives and work. Due to the nature of farming, many live in rural areas near their fields and animals.
For many, their day-to-day work isn’t lived in a metropolis surrounded by thousands of people and their varying opinions. As such, given that they don’t have to watch urban homelessness every day or deal with sub-par public transportation, it can seem like they are ignorant of those matters that mean a great deal to a lot of people. So these lovely farmers get dismissed as being as unknowledgeable just because their field of knowledge is different than others. And it is true that some might remark, “I don’t know about all of that stuff” and then go back to work planting their fields or harvesting their crops.
And this really is my point. They get back to work doing what they know they should. Our polarized world has a tendency to spend a lot of time talking, debating, arguing and fighting. We try to figure everything out, to understand it all, to defend our positions and convince everyone else to be like us. We debate back and forth about the minutia of politics and ideologies and spend time endlessly quarrelling over debatable things. But what if we set aside so many of those squabbles and simply got back to the work that we know we should be doing? To loving God and loving others, to being a good neighbour, to living honestly and being kind?
Ecclesiastes 11:4–6 (NLT) says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.”
No matter if we are urban or rural, a farmer or a philanthropist, none of us will know everything, and if we wait to do what we know is right until all the conditions are perfect, we will never do anything. So let’s take a lesson from the farmer. You don’t have to know everything, and you don’t need to understand or be right about everything in order to follow God. Let’s get back to work.
Often in life the things that we focus on are not the most helpful things. In the midst of conflict this happens frequently and is extremely difficult to avoid.
There are three notable things that are helpful to differentiate when we are seeking to make peace with someone. The first is the words or actions that are the source of the conflict. The second are the motives behind those words or actions, and the third is the impact of those words/actions. Continue reading How Dare You Break My Mug!→
We have all experienced it. We trusted someone, believed in them, and made ourselves vulnerable in some way to their choices—and they let us down. This, of course, is painful. When it happens enough times, or when the pain is severe enough, it causes us to question whether we can even continue having this relationship. Continue reading When Trust Was Broken→
“Problems can be solved, conflicts can be resolved, but polarization can only be managed.”
This phrase resonated with me as the instructor began her lecture about the nature of polarization. As she unpacked this sentence for the class, the wisdom in it became even more profound. Continue reading Either/Or→
Things were going just fine, or so you thought. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but what is? Then out of nowhere what you thought was going well just turned out to have been naive optimism, and now you get to be the next person to take your turn going for a ride on the conflict carousel. You don’t know what to do and you could use some advice, but you truly love the people you are in conflict with and don’t want to be spreading gossip about them. And, yet, you feel that if there is any hope for things to get better you will need to talk to someone. So, what do you do? How do you involve someone without becoming a gossip? Continue reading Getting Help Without Being a Gossip→
Some people might describe me as a little bit particular. Okay, maybe more than just a bit. I am someone who likes to have things in order. I don’t like chaos, discord, or things left undone. When it comes to relationships, one of the things that has a tendency to cause me the most pain is when there are relationships in conflict where reconciliation has yet to happen and there is no clear path forward to restoration. Continue reading Not-So-Great Expectations→
When I began studying conflict, I was surprised about how many of the classes were about simply dealing with our own baggage. It turns out that since much of conflict pertains to misunderstandings and the attitudes we embody, much of the work to deescalate matters involves the simple but difficult work of humbling ourselves and dealing with those things that only we can. Continue reading Put Your Hand to the Plow→
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference