A very short story about peace

Photo of Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) by Peter Hammer

A lot of 1st-time visitors to Aotearoa New Zealand have an experience they can’t articulate e.g. they might say “I feel like I’ve come home at last”.

I think what’s happening is that they meet a critical mass of peace and don’t know the word for it.

Compared to other nations, a lot of NZ people have an easeful life, e.g. less fear of police, less corrupt institutions, more social connectedness, more intact welfare state. [Note I said by international comparison: also a lotta ppl have a terrible life in NZ.]

The thing I call “peace” is encoded in the biosphere. There’s a lotta wildness. Indigenous sovereignty has remained intact despite extreme colonial violence. Therefore many people know how to live in right relationship with human & nonhuman kin.

Settlers have benefitted enormously from Indigenous expertise in waging peace.

[Mostly this benefit has not been acknowledged or compensated.]

In Europe I’m paid well for my expertise in group process design but in NZ it’s obvious my skills don’t hold a candle to the sun of Māori knowledge and practice of group process.

Aotearoa has many extremely convivial communities. Strangers offer you a ride home from the airport. Neighbours bring you some of the extra veggies they grew. People say good morning when you pass them on the footpath. You thank the bus driver on exit.

Result: a lot of people are not anxious, stressed, vigilant, hurried, agitated.
This is communicated in embodied gestures that will often miss your conscious notice: eye contact, posture, vocal tone, willingness to linger and chat a few extra moments at the checkout counter.

The main obstacle to me deciding to leave NZ to live in EU was that I feared I could lose my ease, clarity, vigour, foresight, discernment, humour etc. if I left that peaceful environment.

So last time I was there I decided to pay close attention to the peace so I could take some with me in my pocket. I have an imaginary stone that I carry with me, which I grab on to whenever I’m feeling short of peace.

Mostly I notice peace as a relation to the present.

Peace is what emerges from faith in the present moment. My hopes are pinned on right now, not a wish or imagined future. I drift out of peace when I lose touch with the present moment.

Peace is a generative relation to difference.

Difference without attunement is discordant conflictual noisy brittle and anxious.

Difference with attunement is harmony.

Harmony comes from intently listening to my companions and making subtle adjustments to my own self expression.

There’s more harmony available when my sense of companionship encompasses more, when my kinship includes more, when I feel myself alongside people who are not related to me as family or as human or as contemporaneous.

I practice exercising the peace muscle with myself, making peaceful relations with my different parts, being a companion to all my anxious and excited and sad and creative and autistic and dancing and gross and selfish and brutalised and wise parts.

I practice making peace in my relationships and small groups and in my writing and tweeting and my microsolidarity.

I’m not super good at it, but it is easier when I’m surrounded by people practicing.

I’m not going to live in NZ for a while, so I’m calling all peace practitioners into my orbit: practice in digital spaces with me, practice in European cities with me, practice where you are, with your cousin or your partner, sing that note loud so I can pick it up when I lose the tune.

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