“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”

As to the question implied in the title, the obvious answer is “nothing.” What could be strange, odd, or amusing about these virtues?

This is the name of a marvelous song, written by Nick Lowe in 1974, and memorably recorded by Elvis Costello in 1979.The lyrics include these lines: As I walk through this wicked world, searching for light in the darkness of insanity, I ask myself, Is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred and misery?'”

These lyrics could meaningfully have been penned today. Or yesterday. Or January 6th, 2021.

In our deeply divided country, we are each faced with options of how we react to troubling events, and the people who perpetrate them, as well as those who tacitly or openly condone violence and hatred.

I deeply believe in the power of peace, and the power of love. And most days, even with those of a radically different perspective, I can stay in a good place. But understanding? That’s not happening. How can we understand that which is irrational?

Theologian Ted Peters wrote a book entitled, “Sin: Radical Evil in Soul and Society.” In it he makes the case that evil is inherently irrational. No amount of rational argument, no evidence, or statistics will touch the actions and arguments of those bent on destruction.

The best we can do is remember this important teaching and not waste our time in disputation. Focusing on peace and love in our own souls will spill out, and slowly but surely move people and events in a more positive direction.

Please find a video of “What’s so Funny “bout Peace. Love, and Understanding” on YouTube. It’s best played LOUD, and I promise it will make your day.

(NOTE: Apologies. I valiantly tried, and failed to include an actual link to the song.)

Peace vs. Fear

What feeling do you get from this image?

More and more Americans, many of whom would be considered “decent people”, are buying weapons for self-defense. Is this really the best response to the perception of an increasingly violent society?

We each need to answer this for ourselves, of course, as we do all ethical questions which face us in life. My hope is that arming yourself does not become a reflexive response to unexamined fear.

Violence is not the opposite of peace. Fear is the opposite of peace. Peace is an active attitude of trust, contentment, compassion, serenity and gratitude. Fear robs us of peace. We expect the worst, while buying into the idea that danger is always lurking outside the door.

What are the odds that you will find yourself in the position to shoot, or even threaten another human being with a gun? The odds vary by where you live, those with whom you associate, your personal habits, and your level of reactivity.

Every morning I walk by a tent encampment in a nearby park. Assuming that you live in a home, do these people have more to fear than you? Very likely so. Life is dangerous for those who lack safe housing, whether it be an encampment, a shelter, or home in an area with high levels of criminal activity.

This leads to the question of why a growing numbers of individuals, whom many of the “homed” fear, are “homeless.” We all know the answers–destructive personal habits, poor financial choices, mental health issues, or a criminal history which makes housing and employment difficult.

Why do people commit crimes? The answers overlap with why people lack homes.

Rather than spending your time buying guns, attending gun safety training, and going to a shooting range, what about making your community a better place for all people? Work for candidates who choose not to promote fear to get elected. Volunteer for organizations that provide jobs, affordable housing, job training and support, addiction assistance, and mental health counseling. Or use some of the money you save by not buying guns to start your own campaign or organization!

Peace trumps fear every time, my friends.