Why I Call Myself a Pacifist

My son, Teddy, was having a difficult time falling asleep last night. And he let the rest of us know with assaulting shrieks of discontent.

So, naturally, to silence him, I walked up to his room, lowered my face to about an inch from his, and shouted: “Blaaahhh!!! Don’t do that!!! Blaaahhh!!!” That showed him. I also flicked his earlobes, just to make sure he got the point.

No, of course that’s not what I did. Instead, I wooed him back to sleep with a combination of holding, swaying, speaking softly and reassuringly, giving him his aptly named “pacifier,” and patiently waiting out his crying until he had voiced what he needed to voice.

Not only were aggressive screams and ear-flicks not the only ways to deal with Teddy’s attack on the quiet post-kids-in-bed phase of my evening, these were possibly the least effective ways (not to mention the least rational and least creative).

I would call myself a pacifist. It is fitting, then, that I am a Quaker. The commitment to peace is often a significant part of what compels and entices people to participate in the Friends (Quaker) tradition.

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The Virtue of Wonder: Loving Beauty but Not Bombs

Can the stars in the sky, the intricacies of the human brain, or the impressive performance of a talented individual enhance our ability to care for our children, be a good friend, or relate to our actual or imagined “enemies” peacefully rather than violently? I think yes.

The virtue of wonder—a habit of amazement, reverence, awe, and curiosity—is essential to love. And we love by giving but also receiving.

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