I’ve been thinking about Peace Tables. While some are so neck deep in hatred and biases it is going to take awhile to get them out, most of us are just splashing about up to our knees. Most of us are tired of all the anger and name calling. Most of us just want to be heard. A hug or hearty handshake would be pretty nice too.
I see on some forums people on “opposite” sides of a debate are asking what it would take to be able to go out for a beer together or sit down for coffee and just chat. You know, be human again.
That got me thinking about Peace Tables.
What if we set up tables between protestors with chairs on either side and took turns sitting down and listening to each other. Really listening. Not just waiting our turn to shred their views or call them stupid. The kind of listening you would give your most cherished loved one who was going through a difficult time. Just listen with an open heart and mind.
No one would have to change their view. I think it would just be healing to be heard. To be able to have some sort of disagreement without things denigrating into infantile name calling. Freedumbers and Libtards are not words of peace. They’re words of combat and divisiveness. When we call each other these names we are just becoming opposite sides of the same coin. We are equally advocating hate, just for different sides.
Peace Tables could be a step towards unity. Towards reclaiming our adulthood. Our humanity.
I think they should be painted grey. I know, I know. That’s not a very pretty colour. In fact, of all the colours out there, grey is probably the most drab. But it is also what happens when you mix black and white. And no situation or cause is ever just black or white. It is always a mix. A bit of truth there, a bit of truth here. Mix it together and what do you get? Grey.
Grey also represents overcast stormy skies before the sun comes out. The darkest hour before the dawn.
So if people are willing, they could come to the grey Peace Table and using an egg timer, take turns talking. Take turns listening. Take deep breaths and promise for those few minutes, not to be triggered. Open your heart and strive to see the grey in each other.
A good opening question could be, “What has the last two years been like for you?”
No one is ever completely evil. And no one is ever perfect. But when two people come together and close their mouths and open their ears, beautiful things can happen. I’ve often heard it said that’s why we have two ears and only one mouth. We were meant to listen twice as much as we speak.
Tables could be set up in parks, beside walking paths, at cultural events. Whenever someone wants to be heard, or is feeling heavy hearted, they could sit down at the table. If someone walking by has the capacity and open heart to listen, they could join them.
I am convinced we would find we are not so different after all. There is always common ground. If both sides have children, chances are they both love them and want them to prosper. That’s a common thread. It’s a place to start.
Or maybe it’s pizza, a sports team, a song, a movie, a book, a shared love of summertime and picnics in the park, a grandmother. There are all kinds of ways we are more alike than different.
A grey table might be a good place to discover what those things are.
And a funny thing happens when we feel heard. We find ourselves genuinely wanting to hear the other person’s thoughts as well. Maybe that’s Pollyanna of me, but those are my thoughts.
What are yours?