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The Language of Peace

Much of our daily language contains words of war. What if we let them go?

Squirrel Monkey eating Heliconia Blossoms, Costa Rica

I recently became more aware of this when I started a new Instagram account, called Light as a Wren to connect with others dealing with chronic illness. What I found was a lot of war-like language:

Chronic warrior. Pain warrior. Fight MS.

Nancy Preuss, a friend and mentor at Sandy Spring Friends School, told me over a decade ago that she was taking all words of war out of her daily speech. I hadn’t really thought about it before. But, as I tried to do it myself, listened for it in others’ language, and read the newspaper,

I recognized how imbedded war-words had become.

Battle it out. Bulletproof argument. You’re killin’ me. Annihilated ‘em. Bombproof. Arsenal. Bombs away. Soldier on. Incoming. Battle stations. Trigger-happy. Comrade. Fight. Hit. Barrage.

Last week, I used the phrase, “all hands on deck.” It wasn’t until later that I recognized its Naval origins.

And I get it. Fight, battle, warrior—all denote a sense of power, of strength. And who doesn’t want to feel strong and in control.

It takes conscious effort to use peaceful language, while still denoting a sense of determination, of being tough, robust.

Dotty and daughters, Ruth and Helen 2017

I am not a warrior or a fighter. But I am strong. I do not want to fight my diseases or conquer the symptoms that plague me. But I do want to help my body feel better. I do what I can to heal what can be healed and seek a sense of calm (and adventure!) while living with the rest.

Eliminating war-words from my daily language is a small step,

but one that might change the tone of a conversation.

Pufffins, Machias Seal Island, Maine

Kinder speech, kinder thoughts, kinder actions.

That’s the way I want to live.

Barn Owl under bridge, Costa Rica

For the next two weeks, as daylight flees early and arrives late, may peace be with you. As we turn the corner to increasing light, may you feel in yourself that lightness. Every day, every day, may you go in peace.

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