Friday, February 4, 2011
Keeping the Peace
Do you remember the famous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys? A squabble started between these families in the states of Kentucky and West Virginia during the American Civil War. After the war, the feud was kept alive by disputes over a fiddle worth $1.75 and a stray razorback hog.
According to Stan Mooneyham, "Dancing on The Strait & Narrow," by Election Day 1882 the situation deteriorated to the point that three McCoy brothers killed Ellison Hatfield because he had insulted them. "Devil Anse," head of the Hatfield clan, had the three McCoys rounded up and tied to bushes within sight of their family cabin; then he put fifty rifle bullets into them. After that it was a life for a life -- sometimes two or three -- and even the women became just part of the body count. Hostilities didn't finally abate until the second decade of the twentieth century. The cost to those two families was immense. Almost thirty deaths were recorded in the most famous example of eye-for-an-eye revenge in U.S. history.
You've seen this scene in the movies: a rugged cowboy pats his pearl-handled six-shooter in a holster hanging from his hip and drawls, "This here is my peacemaker." Peacemaker? Maybe widow-maker. Or orphan-maker. The problem is, shooting people is not a good way to peace. It’s a little like the father who, while spanking his child, said, almost in cadence with each slap, "HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO HIT YOUR SISTER!" Gotta love the irony.
If force and violence can’t bring peace out of chaos, what can? What does it take to make peace? And to keep it?
The answer is clear. Peacemakers are not weapons -- peacemakers are people. You and I. Peacemakers are people with hearts for reconciliation and understanding. In our families; with our neighbors; around the world.
Level-headed and patient people have always been the best hope for a lasting and just peace. That is the only way it has ever worked.
Perhaps that’s why peacemakers are call blessed.
-- Steve Goodier