Courage as a Synonym for Peace

My mind has been dancing around this post on the weekend prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After being in charge of selecting books for various library displays, the most recent of which was “Peace,” I decided upon using that particular theme description from the Multicultural Storytime Resource I scribed for a colleague over the summer.

The description I wrote reads as follows, “Peace is an all-encompassing theme like My World for your multicultural storytime. Individuals, neighborhoods, and countries come to peace in different ways. Often external peace is an effect of inner peace and vice versa. This relationship creates diverse opportunities for reflection for both younger and older children. Peace may mean what happens to you like having your immediate needs met, or being seen or accepted for who you are at home or in a foreign setting. Peace may also mean what actions we take as individuals and in groups, covering topics like social justice, advocacy, and agents for change. Providing global models for all identities as world citizens who contribute to peace is a specific way to humanize this ideal.”

I read this description multiple times, opening, then closing and then reopening the file while working the Children’s Desk. Yes, the words were important, but what was my message for me? Thursday, I took a reference phone call at the Children’s Desk from a police officer set to read aloud with a group of girl scouts. This police officer requested a selection of books on the theme of “Courage”. I returned to the multicultural storytime lists, starting with Peace, for a few suggestions. In the end the pile of books towered with spines entitled: Wilma Unlimited, Drum Dream Girl, Wangari’s Trees of Peace, Around America to Win the Vote, Rosa Parks, The Girl Who Buried Her Dream in a Can, Sheila the Brave, Thundercakes and Frida.

As I explained the choices to the police officer, I voiced my message. There was courage in art, music, ecology, politics, education, among others. When I drove home from work, determined to come up with a topic for the blog post, I heard my message in my head for unknown actions behind and ahead. Courage is a synonym for peace. Below are brief examples.

My dad seems ever more cantankerous when he sees semis illegally rolling by on our country road for their route. However, it is courage that drives him to buy a camera to capture the infraction and speak up that actually brings him peace.

I felt trepidation initially while composing an e-mail to the health club owners where I am a member. I wrote in support of a trainer who in most ways I see more as a teacher colleague than a fitness professional. The next time she hugged me and thanked me. I could not have I felt more at peace, despite the outcome, because I spoke up in support of instructional practice I see as integral to the community of practice at the health club instead of remaining silent.

Are you working as hard as you can at whatever you want to in this particular moment? That courage will equal peace, as a Facebook post, a nuanced question, a Saturday night on the couch with your pet, or an extra teaspoon of an unfamiliar spice. It will not be the overwhelming Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. kind of peace that everyone notices at once, but it will be a soothing inner voice like the types of books on that Peace book list, starting with young girls simply willing to yell aloud I Like My Hair! Courage occurs in a context laced with risk, but an unsettled heart that lives longer in what if, is less at peace than the one that only skips a beat for the split second before the plunge.

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