It came to me after I signed the “Peace Wall” at rehearsal for our “Togetherness” concert that perhaps as a mediator, I should take a moment to reflect on peace and togetherness.
It is usually assumed that peace is the absence of conflict. While I may sometimes grandly think of myself as a peacemaker, I know in practice that there can never be absence of conflict, because it is part of interacting with others and of living our lives. Who does not have some form of inner or outer conflict every day? Peace is the ability to be together despite our differences or to be comfortable with ourselves despite our own inconsistencies.
Media outlets love to deal in polarization because it sells – either you are for things or against them, love or hate, my way or the highway. This way of thinking is divisive and reinforces “either…or” differences. Mediators work in the gray areas, specializing in nuance and complexity and the concept of “both…and” thinking. Collaborative problem-solving means everyone involved plays a part in finding solutions together and in having their needs met. Research shows that resolving conflict this way results in more lasting results that people buy into because they craft them themselves. It can also give people skills around being together despite their conflicts. Togetherness and peace are therefore inextricably linked to me.
Music too is a collaborative, problem-solving affair. It takes many elements to bring a performance to life. Chorus Pro Musica’s concert “Together” features beautiful, diverse music, a period orchestra, stunning soloists and a chorus of voices blended together under the direction of Jamie Kirsch. The rehearsals would also not be complete without accompanist Terry Halco and all the behind the scenes work needed to produce and promote any artistic endeavor.
I am grateful to both practices, mediation and choral singing both of which allow me to be truly present and, at least for a short while, drown out the distracting noise of everyday life.
The Peace Wall will be on display at the “Together” concert at First Baptists Church, 848 Beacon Street, Newton Center, MA on March 10 at 8pm. We hope you will consider attending and don’t forget to sign our Peace Wall before the performance!
-Ros Cresswell, alto