“This is peace.”

Kids are well known for saying the “darndest things.”  Their interpretations of the world and their environment often make us chuckle and perhaps even feel a tinge of nostalgia as we try to remember what it was like to see things so simply.  But children are not as naïve as we might like to think.  While humorous at times, children’s comments also often reflect astute observations about a world we all live in and struggle to understand.  Child Care Exchange’s “Exchange Everyday” on January 1 shared a beautiful story about a group of four-year-olds’ definitions of peace.  I hope their words of wisdom not only bring a smile to your face, but give you pause as you begin this new year.

What is Peace?
January 1, 2013

Betsy Evans is a great resource to the field on conflict resolution at all levels. On her website she shared this story about talking with her children about war and peace:

“One day during snack the children’s conversation turned to words and their definitions. It began with the word war and what it meant. The children quickly offered definitions: ‘It’s when people kill each other.’ ‘It’s a lot of fighting.’ ‘It’s people shooting.’ ‘People get dead in war.’ There seemed to be considerable awareness of war and I became concerned to know if they understood the word peace as clearly. In anticipation of their possible responses, I took paper and a marker from a nearby shelf, and asked, ‘So what is peace?’

“Three 4-year-old boys, Thad, Ryan, and Ezra, were very interested in the question. Their answers came slowly, thoughtfully, their inspiration extending from one boy to the next, as their ideas became a spontaneous poem. Although at first the boys’ words did not come as rapidly as the words that had defined war, as they talked they became more and more specific and increasingly pleased with their vision of peace.  As they munched on carrot sticks, this is what they said:

Peace is not shooting.
Is quiet.
Is not killing anything.
Is not throwing litter.
Peace is eating healthy stuff.
Is being silly.
Is not breaking glass.
Is not walking in the house with muddy boots.
Peace is not stealing money.
Is not pulling somebody’s hair out.
Is giving someone a present.
Is giving someone something to eat if they are homeless.
Is playing peaceful and sharing toys and something real tasty.
Peace is playing outside together.

“As they finished with the last contribution to the list, it reminded all of us that it was, in fact, time to go outside. I thought this was the end of the discussion so I hung up our extemporaneous peace poem by the table and we went out.  As the boys were running to the playground, one of them shouted, ‘Let’s find a peaceful place!’ They found a shallow dip in the yard, a little grassy crater that fit all three of them cozily.  They lay on their backs in this little hollow, watching the clouds float by. ‘This is peace,’ I heard one of them say.”

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