At what price peace?


With the battle on Capitol Hill still raging, perhaps it’s a good time to talk about battles in general.

We had one the other night just after the last of the chicken divine had been licked from our plates.

It started with telling the children that this fall we will be watching a short Old Testament video after supper. It seemed a simple enough directive, so we were surprised by the eruption that followed: Why? What was the point? Didn’t they get a say in it? Why couldn’t we have talked to them first? They had homework; did we want them to fail in school?

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About that time, the heartburn started. This isn’t the supper I had envisioned. I’d made salad (from kale, no less), sweated over a lovely cheese sauce, deboned two chickens. The weather had finally cooled to sub-Hades temperatures, the windows were open, and Ian and I were hungry for something more than food … for peace. 

One child blew up. One rolled his eyes. One got deathly quiet. First child stomped off and before we knew it, our peaceful supper had disintegrated into a House/Senate style stand off. 

The temptation, of course, is to pacify dissenters. Cave to the kids’ demands in the name of “peace.” Turn on a movie and pop some corn. Crisis avoided, everyone happy, peace at last. Right?

It depends on how you define peace. Is peace simply the absence of conflict? One person on Facebook Tuesday was riled up over the government’s “immaturity.” She was upset they couldn’t just get along and act like adults.

She missed the point altogether.

Peace is not just the absence of conflict and everyone being mature and acting grown up. Peace is often won, as our history proves, after short-term conflict. Winston Churchill knew this. So did William Wallace, William Wilberforce, and many other men and women who forewent personal comfort, restful sleep, and non-ulcerated stomachs for long-term peace. 

So I don’t give a whit that our government isn’t getting along. Since my husband is a government employee who came home at 9:30 Tuesday morning, I don’t say that lightly. Sometimes there are issues we cannot compromise on. And when I call my state representative, I’m not going to ask him to work things out, be nicer, grow up, or give in an inch. Even if it means beans and rice at Chez Henri, I’m going to say, “Hold the line.” 

When our little dissenters threw a fit the other night we had no choice. We had to hold the line. There was no compromise, no room for disagreement, or nothing to renegotiate. You will not ever roll your eyes again. You will not ever stomp off from the table again. This is not a democracy, my friends, and we will meet you on the battlefield at zero dark thirty any day of the week to squash your miniature uprising, lest we wake one day to World War III.

Conflict isn’t always bad, and an easy peace isn’t always good. The issue here isn’t that the Senate and House should play nicer and, for heaven’s sake, just get along. The issue is that even we who love peace sometimes have to go to war. Sometimes war is the only path to peace. 

As most parents know, there are times in life you absolutely must hold the line.

Amy Henry
Amy Henry

Amy is a married mother of six and a WORLD correspondent from Kansas. Follow her other "scribbles" at Whole Mama or by reading her book Story Mama: What Children's Stories Teach Us About Life, Love and Mothering. Follow Amy on Twitter @wholemama.


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