Pearls and Perils of Peace

Blog Birthday! July 21st  marks the one-year birthday of my weekly Pearls of Peace blog! I am reminded of the double-faced Roman god, Janus, often thought to represent beginnings/endings.

The month of January is a namesake of Janus and represents a beginning. Romans held a festival on January 9th with offerings to Janus, but the beginning of a day and the beginning of a new month also were considered sacred. I like the idea of reflecting on beginnings. Each new day holds a potential for personal peace. Each beginning month offers new possibilities for beginning peaceful initiatives.

I was not named Janis for this Roman god (or king by some research), however I am intrigued by the symbolism that Janus represents. With double faces, one looking to the future and the other looking to the past, Janus represents transitions, time passages, doorways and dichotomies. Several possible dualities of Janus include beginning/end, youth/adulthood, birth/death, barbarism/civilization, and war/peace.                                       

Many jani, or ceremonial gates, were used for a departing Roman army. One particular gate was a shrine named Janus Geminus or “Twin Janus.” Shrine doors were left open when Rome was involved in war; closed doors were a sign of peacetime. According to one Roman historian, the Twin Janus gates were closed only twice between the 7th century BC and 1st century BC. For example, the doors to the Janus shrine were closed in 235 BC and Janus (briefly) was considered the “guardian” of peace. Apparently, Roman soldiers did not receive much leave time.

It is uncanny that in 2000+ years we have not learned how to problem-solve our differences across cultures and still have an “open door” to one war after another today. Peace always seems in peril. Is war easy compared to peace?

A lot has happened since last July — another month named for a Roman superstar, Julius Caesar, in 44 BC. Originally the month was named Quintilis, standing for the 5th month in the Roman calendar. Quintilis was renamed July as it was Julius’ birth month! Beginnings of people’s lives and their choices in evolving events hold great significance for many generations.

A lot has not happened since last July. We have a world in peril, embroiled in dichotomies. Who could have guessed the number of raw events in our country since last July? Who predicted a war-ravaged Ukraine? Yet, here we are. Peaceful problem-solving is still a possibility.

Emily Dickinson’s phrase, “the mob within the heart,” captures the notion of the many dichotomies we each carry in our minds. Yet, we have this new day for beginnings. How will you open or close gates in your mind today?  

If you have been reading these weekly Monday AM blogs, you already know that I have more questions than answers.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

100. Just one final question today: What has this blog meant — or not meant — to 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.

7 comments

  1. I have very much enjoyed reading your blogs, Jan, because they offer insight into other people and our world at large. It has been wonderful to read something both philosophical and down to earth at the same time! I hope you will continue!

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  2. One of the things I like about your blog is that I always learn something new! Your brain must hold a world encyclopedia of knowledge. But I must tell you that I don’t believe we ever learned about Janus in our Latin book. Or perhaps I fell asleep that day!!! The questions you submit at the end of each blog, keep reminding me of what is it, that I could do, to bring more peace in this world. So I do hope that you carry on with this blog.

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  3. Many thanks for the Pearl readers who leave comments! A writer wants to know if anything written is “reaching” anyone, making even a small dent in how one might view the world going forward. I have always embraced that phrase, “Each one teach one.” It probably informed the title that I selected for my first book: It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent.
    Your comments reach and teach me too!

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  4. Each week as I read your entries, I marvel at your ability to find timely observations. I love the photographs. I feel challenged to keep track of my day’s doings but get bogged down with petty details. The weekly entry of thoughts is perhaps better than keeping tabs on day to day activities.

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  5. The weeks keep tumbling at a fast clip! Do you remember the nursery rhyme about Jack and Jill? “Jack and Jill went up the hill…Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.” While many have offered ripe meanings of this simple rhyme, no one knows for sure what was intended. Time seemingly speeds by, but we have the opportunity to set intentions for positive actions, whether daily ones or weekly ones.

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