Awareness Foundation

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

By Kanika Phillip

Edited by Josie Child

To me, peace means a few things;

· Being at ease with who I am

· Saying no to violence and war

· Inner calmness: having time to myself, relaxing my body and mind, knowing who I am

However, the actual definition of peace is a bit different:

· Freedom from disturbance; tranquillity

· A state or period in which there is no war, or a war, has ended

I recently watched a vlog by Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury. He spoke about peace and what it truly means to him. Dr Williams classifies peace in its fullest state (in relation to God and God’s world) as:

“the state when we understand one another as gift; when we welcome one another and treasure one another”.

Let’s break this down a bit!

In Isaiah 11 we read prophesies of a coming leader from the line of Jesse, the father of King David:

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

This coming King, acknowledged by Christians to be Jesus, will receive 7 gifts to help him lead a peaceful Kingdom. So if Jesus has received these gifts, and we, as children of God, are co-heirs with Christ, we too inherit these marvellous peace-building gifts.

We just need to use them!

The one I’d like to focus on is ‘understanding’. Understanding is the first step to achieving peaceful co-existence. In this world, people speak many languages, have different cultures, backgrounds and faiths. Diversity is a fact of life. It is also the way that we adapt, overcome, and survive. Therefore, to live with one another, we need to first understand each other.

So, how do we do that?

· By listening to each other

· Learning from the mistakes we make

· Making a conscious effort to appreciate the difference we see in others

Perhaps you can think of more ways?

Dr Williams’ definition got me thinking. Do we as humans really understand each other as gifts? The answer, I think, is no. Most of us do not make a conscious effort to understand each other. If we did, we could truly begin to understand people as a gift. We would also respect each other more, appreciate each other’s culture, backgrounds, history and, simply, a person’s journey.

To me, there is treasure within each of us. There is beauty in just being who you are. Do you think if we truly try to understand each other’s inherent value, then could we have more peace? I do!

The peace that lasts is that frame of mind which opens itself up to the gift God wants to give in the other”.

If we are in this right frame of mind, we open ourselves to the possibility that God wants to bless us through someone else in ways that we wouldn’t expect! Dr Williams also said that “peace is growing and developing all the time because of our joy in one another”. I believe that there is so much joy to be found in other people’s uniqueness. However, sometimes we find it so hard to accept this.

Why is this the case?

“Joy happens when we begin to go beyond being afraid of one another”.

To build peace we must address the root of our fear. If we can get past that, then we will learn to honour one another, treasure one another and love and delight in each other.

Overall, Dr Williams’ vlog made me understand that there is so much more depth to peace than just ‘no war’. There’s also a lot more to peace than my definition of individual wellbeing.

So how can we practise peace more, both individually and in our communities? It all starts with understanding, and then, who knows… you might just be surprised by joy.

“When we are fully at peace, we’re not just sitting still with our eyes shut. We are embracing what comes to us from our neighbour”.

Watch Dr Rowan Williams’ speaking about what peace means to him here: