A Eulogy To Peace
A Eulogy To Peace, From the Perspective of an Afghan Woman
I awoke this morning in a foreign land. Everything about it was different: its essence and its faith, its politics and its creed, its values and its laws, its mores and its customs, its contours and its hue, were suddenly alien to me. At once, I felt myself removed from that gentler, kindlier world of yesterday, that world of equanimity and calm, of joy, love, and peace to which, but a mere eight hours ago, I casually said “good night”.
Casually, and without due appreciation for the wondrous miracle that is, as I’ve come to know it, a peaceful life. A peaceful life—how lacking in gratitude was I, not having earlier recognized such a delicate gift! How impolite of me not to have relished its smiling bounty, and to have thanked it without end! How I wish I could go back—not even twenty-four hours—and smother it in the warmth of my thanks…
Such is the nature of peace, the most fragile treasure for which man, and man alone, is responsible. He’s responsible for creating, giving, and keeping it, for preserving it through the difficult and various trials of life. Strife being his natural state, and war his original condition, peace must be spun out of some mystical fabric. It’s a yarn of his own twining, on which he must set out to work. It’s certainly not the same cloth he dons in his infancy, in which he’s so coarsely swaddled when born. No—it’s an elegant dress whose wearing comes with the passage of time, the attainment of maturity, and the movement toward enlightenment and progress.
Unlike barley or gold, wheat or silver, peace isn’t harvested from the country’s lush fields, nor mined from the rusty bowels of the earth. It’s not a commodity of such a low and common origin. In search of peace, one can’t look to the beasts of the wild for guidance and imitation; bloody preceptors they are, they’d only confirm the native savagery with which he’s cursed. Nor, for instruction, can one gaze toward the stars, whose celestial answers rest beyond all earthly comprehension. From them, spangling the high, dusky vault, glittering the boundless firmament above, he can learn nothing of peace, only the awe and sublimity of distance.
And so, peace seems to have originated elsewhere. It’s less a natural phenomenon, than a deliberate contrivance, one for which the blueprint is missing. It’s as though it were plucked from the thinnest wisp of air, from the friendliest strand of breeze by which the skin can be tickled. Grasping at that fine gossamer of wind, man captures peace between two clenched fingers. He takes it to his mouth, and breathes in its aroma. The perfume is pleasing, and it wafts toward his neighbor. His neighbor inhales the novel draft, and is imbued with its spirit. Upon his exhalation, he contaminants his fellow. Peace, then, is communicated from one to another: it inspires the first, preserves the second, and gladdens the third. Down the line it goes, in a happy diffusion of delight.
By this noble force, the soul of man is deepened, and the joyfulness of the world, sustained.
If only I could reverse the hours, and return to the now lapsed age over which that ephemeral queen—her majesty, Peace—quietly reigned; how deeply would I bow in her royal, fleeting presence! A knee might never again know so acute an angle, nor a limb a reverence so deep. How sincerely would I offer my thanks before her high throne of tranquility and grace, beauty and saintliness! At the threshold of her lofty dais, I’d pour out all my gratitude and love.