The idea for this came from a Sunday School lesson at church yesterday. We were discussing how to become a peacemaker works and that’s when this idea slipped into my mind.
I brought up how Frederic Bastiat had mentioned how Justice is a negative principle or concept; here’s how he explained it:
As a friend of mine once remarked, this negative concept of law is so true that the statement, the purpose of the law is to cause justice to reign, is not a rigorously accurate statement. It ought to be stated that the purpose of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is injustice, instead of justice, that has an existence of its own. Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent.http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html
And peace can be defined this way:
In a general sense, a state of quiet or tranquillity; freedom from disturbance or agitation;https://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/peace
Thus Justice is the absence of injustice, and peace can be defined as the absence of conflict.
If the law is meant to intervene when injustice is present, then what shall intervene when conflict is present?
I proposed that this is where peacemaking comes into play. There isn’t simply one solution to creating peace, it can often be complicated based on the situation.
Jesus gave us many examples and as one brother in the class mentioned, he allows a great deal of agency in how we choose to create peace. He said that Captain Moroni chose to take up arms in the defense of his people, whereas the Anti-Lehi-Nephis chose to be slain rather than harm another person.
Both of these options were acceptable and noble in their own ways and required bravery and faith.
But not all conflict is this violent, and many times the extremes can be averted if we deal with the conflict speedily. Jesus taught:
Come to good terms with your accuser quickly, while you are with him on the way to court, so that your accuser will not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will not be thrown into prison.Matt. 5:25 NASB
If we let the conflict stew for too long, it can often get worse.
I think that it may also help to use Socratic methods to help diffuse conflict. Here are some things to try based on the Socratic method:
- Active Listening:
- Start by actively listening to the conflicting parties. Let each person express their perspective without interruption. This sets the stage for understanding their viewpoints.
- Questioning to Clarify:
- Use open-ended and clarifying questions to delve deeper into the issues. Ask questions like “Can you tell me more about why you feel this way?” or “What is the root cause of this concern?”
- Challenging Assumptions:
- Encourage individuals to examine their assumptions and beliefs about the conflict. Pose questions like “Have you considered alternative viewpoints?” or “What leads you to believe this is the only solution?”
- Identifying Common Ground:
- Seek areas of agreement or shared values among the conflicting parties. By identifying common ground and areas where you agree, you can then build on those shared values and more clearly understand the real point of divergence.
- Empathy and Perspective-Taking:
- Use questions to foster empathy by asking each party to consider the feelings and perspectives of the other. “How do you think this situation is affecting the other person?” or “What would you do if you were in their shoes?”
- Solution-Focused Questions:
- Shift the dialogue toward problem-solving by asking questions like “What steps can we take to resolve this issue?” or “How can we move forward constructively?”
- Balancing Power Dynamics:
- Ensure that all parties have an equal opportunity to express themselves and participate in the dialogue. Use questions to address any power imbalances.
Being a peacemaker is not easy and I think it goes without saying that a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit, the Mind of God is an essential and perhaps the essential ingredient to help us resolve our conflicts as Jesus would.
As we resolve these conflicts, we allow peace to reign and may forge healthier respect and relationships than existed before.