An Oppressive Peace

Have you ever noticed how ‘peace’ can be a really oppressive word?

I’m quite serious. It has two meanings, one being a non-warring period between states and countries. The second being a state of harmony and tranquility. The former is the physical, while the second could be described as the social, emotional or even spiritual side of things.

There’s even a phrase used to silence dissent, “To keep your peace.”

Stop and think about that for a moment. Think about how oppressive that word ‘peace’ can be. It maybe a gently cast stone, but it’s still a stone. If I were to say, “In the name of peace, lay down your weapons,” it would imply that you had a weapon and intended to use them for violence. The former maybe true, but what about the latter?

In the name of peace, we must confiscate your property.
In the name of peace, you must disperse.
In the name of peace, stop protesting.
In the name of peace, stop resisting.
In the name of peace, shut up.

It’s rather amazing how an ideal like peace can become a formidable weapon really. To disarm and silence. To subtly label one’s foe the cause of strife. Don’t speak, don’t resist, just obey. Obey because it keeps the peace for all.

Obey because it maintains the illusion of harmony. Nevermind your unhappiness. Disregard your anger. Against this ideal, your emotions are of less importance. Your rights are secondary to this concept, which is for the best of all.

I guess I should take a moment to clarify here. Maybe to the reader, these words can be beautiful and ring of a bell of truth. But my definition of rights undoubtedly differ from yours. Rights are another powerful, beautiful word. But behind a simple combination of five letters lies a vast set of differing personal and legal definitions. ‘Diffinitions’ if you need a silly, combined word. Much like justice, beauty or freedom. Or even peace.

Even complex political terms, like capitalism or socialism, take on such a widely different set of meanings to the reader. And we frequently find ourselves caught between the dream of how we see it against the disappointing reality of how it turns out.

But I digress. Still, maybe peace is the ultimate doublespeak. 

I’ve heard that the first victim of war is truth. Maybe that’s true between nations. But I have to say, compared to the peace maintained by some of its keepers, civil war can look more like an act of brutal honesty.

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