Measuring Peace

I’m sure we were all delighted to learn that the UK has become less violent and more peaceful during the past decade (see BBC report of the findings of the Institute for Economics and Peace here). Leaving aside the fact that few of us are probably able to judge whether the institute which made the claim used an acceptable or accurate method, still less to judge whether its comparison with other countries of western Europe is valid or not, I daresay some of us are wondering whether we can ever assess the hidden violence in our lives. I’m not thinking so much of the terrible stories one sometimes hears of domestic violence and the like as of the violence no one but God and ourselves knows anything about. You didn’t see my struggle with the lawn-mower yesterday, but I am perfectly well aware that the way I dragged it over the gravel was not . . . peaceful.

Peace is more than the absence of war or violence, but even though we Benedictines traditionally use ‘Pax’ (peace) as our motto, I’d be hard put to define what peace is. I know where peace is to be found: in the person of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I know that to attain peace we must pass through many trials and difficulties (the crown of thorns surrounding the word ‘pax’ on our motto). But measuring it? That’s a different matter. I think, in the end, it is a question of recognition not of definition or measuring. We see Peace dimly, through our tears, as Mary saw the Lord in the garden, after the Resurrection.

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