The Mundanity of Peace


It has slowly dawned on me that one of the obstacles standing in the way of human beings finding peace is, among other things, that it is boring.

Allow me to highlight some recent observations that may further illuminate what I mean. First, I have a girlfriend who has had some really shabby relationships. Going through the mill with yet another unsuitable suitor, we had a discussion about what a healthy, happy relationship might look like. Be like. Feel like. Her conclusion? Well, maybe that would be nice, but you know, just a bit boring.

Second example, while working in one band I regularly used to travel to gigs with one band member who, without needing a degree in medicine could fairly be described as a functioning alcoholic. On one such trip to a gig he was rather confused by the fact that I don’t drink or smoke, that I take regular exercise, eat well etc. He exclaimed, ‘but isn’t that a bit… boring?’

My third rather tenuous example is of a well-known yogi on social media who always posts very lovely, floaty, motivational statuses. Flowers, sunsets and messages of peace and hope are the majority of her content. On one occasion though, she got into a bit beef with some peers and wrote about it and do you want to know something? I have never, ever seen a larger response to her posts than on that occasion. Peacetime needs no reaction, yet when there was a bit of drama, suddenly everyone had something to say.

This is all anecdotal of course and proves nothing but my last example is historical. When hosting an event about the 2011 riots, I had my tutor, a historian who taught my module Poverty, Crime and Protest, on the panel. In our module we quite obviously focussed on crime and poverty and riots. At this event, I asked my tutor what he believed caused the riots and he turned my question right back on itself. The question maybe should be, why don’t riots like this happen more often, given that the conditions we attribute to their cause are often always existent. My tutor brought to our awareness the tendency to potentially overstate these events. Because history is made up of ‘stories’, ‘happenings’, ‘changes’, when we focus on this, it is easy not give those consistent moments, those times when everything was fine thank you very much, equal prominence. There were moments when people lived quite peacefully and rubbed along nicely. Yes, that too did happen. So why might we not focus on those periods in our historical studies? Have we nothing to say about that? Do we inflate these occurrence-based narratives beyond their significance?

These examples are far from definitive but I think what they show is that human energy and action can often be directed towards what I personally call, ‘jumpy-jumpy excitement’. You know, when ‘stuff’ happens and it’s exciting but often at the expense of other more mundane activities of which great and simple pleasures could be extracted. I do not want to be misunderstood here though, what I am talking about should not be confused with youthful exuberance, pure motivation or even energetic gusto as contrasted to more mature and leisurely activities. So going now in a more esoteric direction to explain, I believe it is more like something that is found in the Devil card of the tarot deck. The Devil card in tarot has no religious inference, it simply alludes to energy, but clearly there are analogies. Now, without attempting a comprehensive breakdown of the meaning of this card, we could simply just say that it pertains to mental bondage to ‘lower’, ‘darker’ and more ‘morose’ energies. These energies are po