The Gift of Peace

Image Source:

We all long for peace. We do enjoy peace but do not have the luxury of lasting peace. Lasting peace is a hope that we have on the other side of the grave. Peace remains always in the coming and therefore is precious and fragile. This means peace to us is always castrated. We cannot have the fullness of peace. Peace is not static. It cannot be quantified. It comes and is always in a dynamic flow. Peace therefore can be thought to be spectral as it concerns our hopes and anxieties. We do enjoy peace but we cannot exhaust it. There is always more peace to come. The fact that we cannot enjoy the fullness of peace, we look for it all the time. Enjoying peace is about becoming peaceful and serene. This is why peace has to be thought of as a verb and not as a noun. Peace as a noun is static and frustrates us as peace in its fullness remains elusive. Our longing for peace binds our past, present and future. Our anxieties and hopes associated with the dreams for peace, serenity and harmony manifest that peace stays in the coming. We will always long for more peace all the time. More side of peace is qualitative peace and not quantitative peace. We do not long for the most out of life. We long for the best out of life. Hence, the more peace that is to come is one that is rich in quality. This does not mean that we are on the perpetual advancement towards peace. Peace does not come in a linear flow of perpetual growth. Peace comes disruptively.

The fact that perpetual peace is impossible does not mean that we do not have to strive for peace. Peace is a fruit of actions, relationships and states of affairs. It is a fruit of hospitable condition. It requires us to actively work to build the conditions of peace. Peace is not the mere absence of war or violence. It is not merely a negative condition marked by absence. It is rather a positive condition. We have to think together about both positive and negative aspects of peace. This means we may have to think peace with the tools of deconstruction that will enable us to understand the peace that makes us feel at home is achieved only by making the other feel at home. We cannot have peace by unhoming others. Peace is a fruit of hospitality to the other, the other than the self. Peace comes to us when we cross social boundaries and become welcome to the stranger, the other. Derrida invites us to embrace absolute hospitality. It requires us to give unconditional welcome to the anonymous other. It calls us to let the unknown other become at home without requiring a passport to enter our life. This unquestioned acceptance of the other does not require reciprocation. It is beyond the order of the law as well as the economy of exchange. Absolute hospitality belongs to the zone of the impossible. It enables us to do the impossible. That is, it becomes generous beyond imagination and produces a condition that will reap peace for us all.

Hospitality that remains with the order of the law keeps the law of the household. The host still remains in the position of being the master who receives and hence is in a position higher than the guest, the other that is given hospitality. This hospitality belongs to the order of the law even when given freely without looking to receive in return. Absolute hospitality puts both the host and the guest on the same ground. It is the hospitality that the host owes to the stranger/ the other that is not conditioned by the circles of family, nation, state and citizenship. Absolute hospitality offers unlimited hospitality. The host becomes a welcome. There is no longer a host and the guest but a condition in which the stranger, as well as the host, feel at home. This means the absolute hospitality is transgressive and excessive. Unconditional hospitality transgresses the laws of conditional hospitality and offers excessive or unlimited hospitality. Such as hospitality is a risk that opens itself to the coming of the other who might be hostile to the host. But when one becomes a welcoming embrace, the other, the stranger can only melt in the embrace, bringing peace and tranquillity to both, the guest and the host.

Peace, therefore, stays beyond the order of the law as well as the beyond the economy of exchange. The order of law is based on rights and duties. Both guests and hosts have rights and duties in the order of the law. This reduces hospitality to a legal contract. The laws of hospitality paradoxically take away the condition of possibility of hospitality when the host welcomes the stranger or the guest out of warmth, generosity and love. This is why we cannot really reap real peace by the order or the force of the law. Law kills spontaneity and freedom. Peace cannot be forced by imposing the law. The silence that one derives by imposing the order of law cannot be called peace although sometimes we need the long hand of the law to bring to an end some warring parties. True peace is a gift that we give each other. It is a pure gift and is given without giving. Peace, therefore, remains at the level of the impossible. We do the impossible. We give and receive peace without giving and receiving it. The gift of peace remains not just beyond the order of the law but also remains beyond the economy of exchange. Such a peace is lasting and does not easily die. We have to embrace the ethics of hospitality/ the ethics of love as taught by Derrida and thus live in peace and serenity with everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao