What has become known as the “peace pipe” in many minds, was more than what it suggests. It was a way for some pre-European American traditions to seal covenants. Whatever it is, or was, it is time to put away the peace pipe.
Most likely, it was a “sacred pipe”, used for invocation of things greater than what could be seen. Things of the Spirit and not the physical plane.
This is not a commentary on tradition, and I am not a student of indigenous North American peoples. While I am an advocate for peace, this is a story about resistance, thought and thinking, and allegiances.
One of the ways we got around in Zambia was by riding in the back of a flatbed truck. Twenty or so Americans, most red with sunburn on white skin, waving as we rode slow through campuses of universities and schools.
I was not old enough to attend Woodstock, but I was always intrigued by Woodstock. We were there with the Southern Baptists under the guise playing basketball and teaching religion. I was there to learn.
As we took our first ride through the University of Zambia, I would smile at students, and wave by holding up the traditional peace sign that old hippies flashed.
Lonnie, one of my all time favorite missionaries, pulled me aside and said, “don’t do that.”
When I asked him why, he explained that in Zambia, that gesture had a different meaning. I never got into what that meaning was, and began just to wave.
Hong Kong (2013)
Eric Snowden has become less controversial as the years pass. Some of those in the United States cried foul, while others only cried.
In June of 2013, Snowden met with a reporter in Hong Kong and revealed he had downloaded over a million classified files about the National Security Agencies overreach into technology and privacy. Verizon blindly handed records over and Google was hacked.
It is time to put away the peace pipe. How are people still using Verizon and Google? I know how, because Facebook was hacked, and I still use Facebook.
With all we do know from the Snowden leaks, it is more bewildering that we still communicate with technology at all. It begs the question of privacy, but it also begs another question.
What about accountability?
Power Mad (2021)
Several HR Departments in this country are reviewing personal social media accounts for what they deem acceptable. Most HR Departments have been relegated to protecting corporations and not helping employees… God help us if they become a moral compass.
Just like nobody thought to question Verizon, Google, or Facebook, corporations are rarely questioned. People work in fear because they need to survive.
Private equity bounces around gobbling up distressed businesses and takes the lion’s share. Investors from “somewhere” reap the reward of turn and burn business practices.
Should we put away our peace pipe when they approach and convince us that we should be grateful for the beads offered in exchange for our land?
Should we fight for others when they experience injustice at the hands of small minded dictators, armed with a degree from “Degrees R Us” and a list of “insubordinate” employees?
For me. Yes.
For you. Maybe not.
It is important to remember that peace is not always passive, and that the opposite of pacifism is not always violence. We should also remember that what happens “out there”, does not have to enter “in here”.
My advice to put away the peace pipe is not about disruption or even civil unrest. It is an admonition to think about who you are smoking with. Which sacred covenants are you signing?
I have bought in when I should have bowed out. I have also bowed out when I should have bought in.
What helps me are the stories of those who need help. Also the stories of those that offer help.
My peace lies somewhere in between those two stories. Rarely does it need a sacred pipe or commitment to become real.
Not everyone is your enemy. Not everyone is your friend.
I choose love, but what that love looks like surprises me every day.
Be aware of your vibe and your tribe, be aware of what is going on around you, and be an advocate as it seems reasonable. Bring out the peace pipe when your friends come over and put it away when strangers come calling.