I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer interested in playing the role of the peacekeeper. Instead, I choose a more active position—that of peacemaker.
The peacekeeper flits about, doing all she can to make sure that things are fine and happy on the surface level. No one gets too ruffled. No one raises too much of a fuss. She’s an expert at anticipating the needs of another person who can not be bothered to recognize all the work she’s putting in to keep the waters still. Running herself ragged to make sure that someone else doesn’t run themselves at all. We ignore anything marginally uncomfortable by means of either distraction or denial and in that, we perpetuate this very calm, very idealized façade. An overturned couch cushion to hide a stain. A closet stuffed with mess that we couldn’t possibly let company see—building up and building up until it becomes more than we can handle on our own and we drown in it.
Peacemakers, on the other hand, we’re going to pull everything out of that closet and get to the bottom of it. It’s going to be messy for a while until it’s all been dealt with properly but once it’s organized, all it requires is a commitment to dealing with each little mess as it comes. We will do the hard work in the immediate, knowing that we’re paying tomorrow’s bill. Hear me! We might make a mess! But it will pay off! That is why I am choosing peacemaker.
I am neither, at times, and I am also both. Choosing the peacemaker role will never come as naturally to me but I will commit to doing it as often as I recognize that I have a choice in the matter.
As peacemakers, we have a duty to create peace in the lives of ourselves and others. The act of creating peace can be quite messy but it can also be quite simple. Sometimes it means speaking up for a co-worker whose voice has been spoken over several times. Sometimes it means taking to the streets—turning out in record numbers to let the new man in power know that there are things he has promised that we’ll fight tooth and nail against. You have to fight to keep peace. I know, it sounds like a double-negative but when you think of who currently holds the peace and who is literally dying for it, it’s easier to understand.
Remember back in time with me a little bit: after the election, the internet was a frustrating place to be. Do you remember what it was like? It was hard to spend much time on Facebook without feeling disheartened. I spent a few days just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling—looking for something that would explain to me what I was feeling and why. I think we all know that if you’re looking for what’s in your soul, Facebook is a terrible place to hunt for it.
And then it was the inauguration—quickly followed by the Women’s March. I mostly didn’t have anything to say about the inauguration so I didn’t. But the Women’s March made my heart swell! I was filled with all this pride! The speakers! The record numbers! The way that the whole world stood together to say, “See us? We’re going to hold this new administration accountable to caring for everyone.” I was floating on Feminist Cloud Nine!
But shock of all shocks… I felt my Facebook interactions beginning to mimic those that I was having around the time of the election, again. Facebook wasn’t safe and fun anymore. While this likely surprised no one else, this shocked me. To put it in the most childlike terms: before, my team lost. And that’s why I thought that I was upset on the internet. This time my team did something awesome and I was still upset on the internet. It seems that the common denominator was, in fact, me on the internet.
I did a much better job, this time. I chose not to comment far more often than I actually did. And when I did comment, I was usually very careful with my words (except for a time or two when I ended up deleting things I’d said). I am not apologetic about the way I behaved on the internet. Even still, after these precautions were taken, I still found myself totally unsatisfied and just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, searching for something to make my soul feel better. And of course, we all know I didn’t find it. Because the thing that feeds my soul is not on the internet. It’s not in making people agree with me. And then I remembered something super important: Facebook is a voluntary activity.
It’s almost impossible to be a peacemaker on Facebook. I think it’s a great tool to use to help organize but as far as enacting change? The comment section of a tired meme is quite useless for that.
Most conversations in that space are all about trying to get someone to agree with you if they don’t already. And if they already do, a lot of the time it’s just patting ourselves on the back about how right we are. I think I’d rather talk to people in person. Don’t you? In person, I don’t know what a person’s political affiliations are because rarely does anyone have a photo of an eagle carrying a machine gun under the American flag instead of a face. I don’t care if they agree with my excitement over the women’s march. I just want to talk about books with that person—or swap recipes—or ask how their day is. In person when I disagree with someone I find myself much more eager to find out where they’re coming from. I feel like they hear me, too. In person, people almost never call one another mean names when there’s a minor misunderstanding. In person, people are a lot more forgiving and graceful.
In person, you can be the peacemaker.
PS: If you’re interested in the concept of Peacemaker VS Peacekeeper, you might also be interested in this post I happened upon the other day called Nice Girls VS Kind Women.