It’s become like the air we breathe. Peacemaking. We often don’t even recognize it happening. And yet, in like manner, it embodies a miracle. For, to practice mindful and intentional peacemaking in this world, we need to first be aware of what is happening all around us.
Our Brave New World
A century ago, most people never left the immediate region where they were born. Travel was limited. Communications were simple. Pictures, much less moving pictures, of people in other parts of the world were rare indeed!
But now, it's all so different. We live in a time where it’s not uncommon to rub shoulders with people from any number of cultures, ethnicities or races – in a single day. This happens both physically and especially in the online space.
If we don’t pay attention, we miss those opportunities for peacemaking. But if we’re alert, the frequency can astound us.
Keeping Our Eyes Open
In the Ladies’ Room at Trader Joe’s, two women are speaking a language I neither know nor can even place.
I work with a Filipino tech person to iron out a problem I’m having over the phone.
I overhear a Latino family converse about the upcoming weekend as we both head through the checkout line.
Some Turkish friends invite me over for Turkish coffee and treats.
I begin a chat session with a fellow classmate in an online class we’re taking. She is Sudanese, living in Saudi Arabia, with ambitions to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering in the UK.
I am living out intentional peacemaking. All in a single day.
We can treat this 21st–century world as if it has always been this way. Much like breathing. It happens even when we don’t pay attention.
But, like breathing, we can improve our awareness, our cognition, and our intention. We can focus on the peacemaking opportunities we encounter, often without even trying. But, we must pay attention and make the most of our experiences. We can be mindful to connect with others unlike ourselves. We can practice intentional peacemaking daily.
About Breathing and its Benefits
Long ago, most in the West gave scant attention to the act of breathing. We knew it was necessary, but it happens, in most cases, automatically. So we forget those seventh-grade biology lessons about how breathing actually works – the taking in of oxygen to the lungs, the transport by the red blood cells to the heart, and so on. A miraculous, cascading of events, almost all unseen to us.
But now, as Eastern philosophies putting more focus on the mind-body-spirit connection permeate daily life in the West, a greater appreciation of the act – and art – of breathing has arisen.
Sure, from birth to death, most of us do it automatically. But being aware of our breath expands not only our lungs but also our perspective. Deep and full breathing often ushers a calmness over us even in the most stressful of situations, whether you are about to step on stage to deliver a speech or face a tough relational challenge.
Transfer this to Cross and Intercultural Connecting
In a similar vein, a mindfulness of our interactions – and how each one is such a remarkable opportunity to spread beauty, grace, love and peace – should be at the heart of the interculturalist’s modus operandi.
An intentional peacemaker is called to develop an awareness of this process, one much sharper than most. Why is this so important?
We believe at the core of every human being, no matter what his/her background, from hardened criminal to innocent newborn, exists a deep longing to know and be known, to love and be loved.
A person may not acknowledge it or even recognize it (as could well be the case in the examples above), but this deep longing forms the basis of both our highest aspirations as well as our most tragic ambitions.
So, awareness of this longing – and the opportunities it presents – can elevate our character and choices in all arenas of our lives.
In particular, this mindfulness provides a springboard to intercultural ambassadorship on a day-to-day basis. This intentional peacemaking comes through each interaction. It is worthy of study, training and improvement. Becoming mindful is critical to the calling of an intentional peacemaker.
This is a primary goal of CultureWeave: to provide a place, a community and myriad of opportunities to develop and enhance this awareness, to build our intercultural muscle and sharpen our intercultural acumen. To practice intentional peacemaking.
Because it matters.
How can YOU become more intentional as you move and interact with others daily?