Positive Peace

What is positive peace?

"Peace is more precious than diamonds, silver, or gold.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Who is the man who desires life, who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34: 13-15)

Positive psychology graduate and manager of Stanford University behavioral lab Nicholas Hall argued in an essay he wrote for class, that peace should be included in Peterson and Seligman’s outline of character strengths and virtues. Peace, he said, is both an internal strength and a strength expressed between individuals and groups. Peace presents a lack of conflict; desires and goals are aligned with values and motivations. Judaism is a religion where the practice of peace is not only encouraged but expected. Proverbs 3:17 says "Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace."

Positive peace is a goal that can be achieved, but not without consistent effort. One can use concepts such as self-knowledge of values and goals and self-regulation to hold back from desires to help achieve peace. When peace is found within individuals or groups, they are free to pursue their goals with the absence of conflict. There may be differences in goals between individuals and groups. Peace essentially is the presence of a lack of conflict, which allows for higher levels of positive energy within individuals and groups and more achievement of goals.

Peace is not only an end in itself, but also a state of mind and being. We can achieve a peaceful mindset by making peace with ourselves and those around us. Making peace with ourselves can mean forgiving ourselves for past mistakes, embracing our imperfections, and acknowledging that G-d is guiding our lives, says social worker and writer Rabbi Yaakov Weiland. But peace is not only about us but about others, as well.

Positive Peace and Judaism

 "Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them close to Torah. " (Ethics of the Fathers 1:12)

We learn from the Mishnah that only those who love peace can truly pursue peace much like Aaron, the Jewish High Priest, who loved people and would work tirelessly to restore peace among them. The Talmud also teaches us that peace is an important factor in marriage. When there is peace between a man and woman, G-d is present in their home. However, when there is discord between them, G-d’s presence is nowhere to be found, leaving the couple with the fires of conflict.

When we seek to be at peace with ourselves and others, we are expressing our love for G-d and His people. When we love G-d, we also love His people because they were created in the Divine image. When we seek and pursue peace, we ultimately bring about a change for the better in our world. A society with less quarreling, anger, violence, and depression is a more productive society that can achieve the goals it has set forth for itself.

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