Peace versus Polarization

Love & Peace Hybrid Tea Rose

Polarization is undermining our planet. What will it take for the Ukrainian people to have peace in their corner? I listen to the month-long impassioned words of Volodymyr Zelensky and wonder what it will take to bring his country’s people back together again. Like the old rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, I wonder if all the king’s weapons and all the king’s men CAN bring back Ukraine’s 3.3 million scattered-to-the-four-winds refugees.

There is a story or two about Humpty Dumpty. Some tout the simple version; it is just a riddle about things breaking down. From other minds, Humpty may represent King Richard III of England. Was he humpbacked? History tells that Richard was brutally defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Later dubbed the War of the Roses, battling sides spilled blood from 1455-1485. Why? The homeland was polarized between Lancaster (red-rose territory) and York (white rose-land). Never mind that the rosy-war label did not appear until the 19th century.

History reveals Richard to be a bad egg who clawed his way to power by killing his brothers, nephews, and anyone else who stood in opposition to his claim to “King-dum” rights. Richard rationalized his actions as “security” measures for his country.

The egg-enhanced story came from Lewis Carroll’s novel, Through the Looking Glass, published in 1871. However, the name, Humpty Dumpty, pre-dates the iconic pictures of a wall-climber egg-shaped Humpty.

A weapons’ version of Humpty Dumpty suggests that this was no egghead, but rather Humpty was a name given to a cannon fired by the Royalists during the English Civil War. The Civil War raged from 1642-1649. The cannon’s position was on the walls of Colchester and it did indeed suffer a fatal fall, along with King Charles I who lost the war along with his head. OK, this is grim, but you already know that war is grim.

People have fought in wars seemingly since the beginning of time, whatever timeframe that represents. When is peace possible? Artists, musicians and poets express anguish for all of us over peace possibilities. Emily Dickinson captures the essence of this angst in these lines:  

I many times thought Peace had come

When Peace was far away—

As Wrecked Man—deem they sight the Land—

At Centre of the Sea…

How many fictitious Shores—

Before the Harbor be–

Yet, we must not give up on the possibility of peace for the planet. The resilient Ukrainians believe in peace. They elevated their national flower, the sunflower, to peace-symbol status. (See Peace as Your Legacy Blog, 3-7-22.) Let’s restore the lovely rose to a peace-time image.

We need to turn a corner or two and intend to make peace possible – in our families and our communities. Start small. Handle one polarization in your life at a time. Let’s make peace in our own daily lives.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

66. What seems polarized in your life today?

67. How might you model peace-making for those around you

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

3 comments

  1. That is my favorite rose – Double Delight, so named because its fragrance is as delightful as its two-tone color! To ease the non-declared rift between my brother and me (we live 90 miles apart), I make occasional comments to his facebook posts, and send an occasional text. I keep the door open and hope he will soften eventually, but I wonder how much time we have left for that to happen.

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  2. Sometimes it is difficult to know why a polarization continues to separate people, especially in a family. Is is pride? Is it fear of closeness? Is it a long-standing issue rooted in jealousy? I admire your open-door efforts. Peace in one’s family is worth every post or text that you send.

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  3. Thank you for this timely and thoughtful message. It hit home, in my personal life, and in the wider world. And the Humpty Dumpty background is fascinating.

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