Peace is no different than anything else: people go about it in different ways. What’s hard is that there is in the nature of Peace the imperative to work together. When someone’s approach is so different as to be alien to yours, it makes working together challenging, to say the least.
I work best alone or in consultation with other people who work alone but who are interested in pursuing a particular goal. I can play well on teams, where we each rely on our own expertise, but do not do particularly well in institutional settings. My independence can be an irritant and I can find that work style fairly irritating. I went to a meeting the other day and was reminded that it’s not that I can’t play well with others, I just don’t particularly enjoy organized play! Only team sport I ever competed on was swimming. You put your head down and swam your heart out. That works for me.
When I was a kid, I was good at the massive eyeroll about the slow steady nature of institutional work. Now that I’m clear I don’t have to participate, I can appreciate. Because after all, I really want to do only the work I’m good at. That means there’s a whole bunch of other work to be done. I finally got smart enough to look around and see whose work was complementary! At work for instance, I rely on my Director of Religious Growth and learning to supply denominational enthusiasm. When I started to work there, I knew I needed to find a residential UUist. While profoundly UU in spirit, I’m interested in local or regional community and Peace building. I want impact. I can do that work because Sara reminds me where the institution supports that work. She wants process. Luckily we adore and respect one another and are happy to see through one another’s eyes now and again.
Sara’s pretty easy to love and she’s a grown-up and knows her strengths, which makes it very easy to work with her. We laugh enough and make enough progress that it seems she feels the same. We also trust one another to have the best interests of the community on our hearts. And we rely on each other to do the work we can’t do… and we both cast around to find someone to do the work neither of us are gifted at. And that is Peace. It isn’t my working like Sara, completely out of my element, or her working like me, completely out of her element, it takes both of us doing what we’re excellent at and accomplishing our shared goals. We’re building community the only way you can, together, and we’re building it on our differences rather than despite them.
This works for us because we each know ourselves pretty well, we have enough explicit, shared work, goals and values and we are willing to figure out out how to stand together… but as our buddy Mr. Gibran says… not too close together!