I am from a large and close family, and while most are supportive of our peace work, there have been occasions of conflict. I hate falling out with anyone, but in particular with people I am close to. So when one family member told me I shouldn’t be taking our small children on a large anti-war demo, I was very upset. We had a painful discussion about it, I stood my ground, and later I was touched when that person came to a vigil I was organising. She still disagrees with me, but I think we have learnt to respect each other’s positions without affecting our relationship.
More troubling was the argument with the person I am probably closest to, about the rights and wrongs of the war. This has been extremely difficult for both of us, and at one time the conversation seemed to be overwhelming every meeting. In the end, we chose to talk about other things, and over the years, though the topic is still difficult, I think we have a better understanding of our positions. We learnt to see the funny side – while I was organising a letter writing campaign protesting to Tony Blair about the war, she was writing to him offering her support! And no-one could have been more helpful when my husband went to jail.
Whilst these experiences have been hard, I feel I have learnt a valuable lesson about building peace. We cannot always agree. If we can find ways to accept this and work together to rebuild trust and find points of agreement, we might perhaps reach a place where the original source of tension is reduced and a new relationship can be formed.
Peace activist, Oxford