Peace: Part Three

The Flipside of Peace

The Flipside of a virtue is what that virtue would like if arch-virtue Wisdom was removed.

For the virtue of courtesy, we said that the Flipside would be reckless obsequiousness. We said that the Flipside of acceptance was apathy or fatalism.

Wisdom–which we defined as the presence of all virtues, like white on a color wheel–is what makes a virtue something worth seeking. Remove wisdom, and the virtue becomes just an ideology. It becomes an idea. Wisdom brings life to the virtues.

In the case of peace, one of the consequences of removing wisdom would be much like flipside of acceptance: apathy. Detachment, a complete absence of concern for what happens to ourselves or to others is another Flipside.

Have you ever been around someone who is high? They don’t even make sense. You ask them a question about what they want to eat and they respond, “my body is a temple.” And dagnabit, they are serious. Their consciousness is floating somewhere above the need for earthly things like food. Rest. Water. They are at peace…sort of. Until they crash.

Likewise, have you ever been around people who are so “enlightened” (not high, mind you, just high-minded) that talking to them is like talking to a brick wall. Everything is “hallelujah” and “praise the Lord.” While I would love to live in that kind of peace, it is unnerving to admit that I don’t buy it. I don’t believe it for one cotton pickin’ minute. That kind of peace is a show, and I just don’t want any part of it.

The Supervillains of Peace

The Supervillains of Peace are those who pretend to be, for effect or out of pure hypocrisy, detached from concern about what happens in their lives.

Likewise the Supervillains of Peace are very much like that duck in Part One of Duck Theory, who makes it all look so easy, who has an impeccable façade. These are people who make normal, non-Supervillains like you and me feel like crap because we don’t have it all together. That seems to be their modus-operandi: they make themselves feel at peace by making normal people doubt themselves.

In general, social media “Influencers” are Peace Supervillains and we normal people need to keep this in mind. They are peddling their perfection and their peace, often for profit. Fine. Great for them. But if we, in any small measure, are seeking our own peace, we need to stay out of their sphere of influence.

Peace will not be found on social media, even though there are some very well-intentioned influencers out there.

Peace lives in the quiet, restful moments of choosing the option which is simpler, less flashy, less noticeable, less stress-provoking, sometimes more difficult and infinitely less fun.

Incomplete thoughts on peace

I started this discussion of the virtue peace because I needed peace. I was on the Euthanasia Coaster, the inertia and g-forces of my own family life and my own utterly unattainable expectations of myself choking me out.

This study of peace was my way of stepping off the roller coaster. Do you need to step off the roller coaster? Here’s where to start:

Every valley shall be raised up,

    every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level,

    the rugged places a plain.

Isaiah 40:4-5

The book of Isaiah is the ultimate stepping-off-the-roller-coaster spot to start, but especially everything from Isaiah 40 to the end. Here, from the very beginning of this section, there is comfort, there is hope and I promise, there is some peace.

I am far from being enlightened, as you know. But I really believe that in the pursuit of virtue there is happiness. Were you to ask my indulgent philosopher husband if I am a peaceful, happy, virtuous person, he would probably laugh maniacally, wiping tears of irony off his face. Then, I’m pretty sure he would say, “But I know she’s trying.”

It’s worth trying.

Up Next

On Sunday, I am going to offer up some real-life examples of my quest for peace. I assure you that they are not earth-shattering, but they have provided some much needed respite for my soul. My hope is that you will be willing to question your own habits and routines in order to start pursuing peace, too.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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