Peace is an Act of Will

I was watching a recent Harry Potter movie marathon when a scene came on of Harry, Hermione, and Ron walking down a crowded London street. I thought about how vulnerable all of the “Muggles” on the street were compared to the magic the three could bring to bear, and how, if they wanted to, they could cause mass chaos easier than I could write a sentence.

Clearly, they wouldn’t, because they’re the heroes of the story. But I then thought about how it wouldn’t take magic to start pandemonium. Any person could just run down the street, punching people in the face. And it’s almost remarkable how rare these outbursts are compared to the overall population of people.

The focus is so often on what’s wrong and who’s to blame. And while celebrating not being punched in the face every day seems ridiculous, life could be like that. We oftenn think of peace as a standard baseline, and acts of violence a departure. But we should recognize that peace and coexistence are acts of will and decision making, just as acts of violence are.

And if acts of peace are intentional decisions, then understanding the purpose behind those decisions could bring to light ways to spread peace into more violent circumstances.

So – be honest with yourself. What keeps you from punching people in the face (especially when you want to)? Is it fear of authority/repercussions? Is it respect for others? Fear of loss? Something else? What causes the conditions for restraint that could be replicated elsewhere?

Image Source: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

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