On Peace: The Role of Interpersonal Relationship in Peacebuilding

Amb. James Okechukwu

Ed. 187 /27.10.2021

How would you feel if everybody around you behaved like you, thought like you, greeted like you and maybe spoke like you? Boring right? But somehow, it is interesting to imagine.

Maybe you’ve had someone like that already in your life or you’ve come across someone that gives you the feeling of “I bet you are a bit like me”. Well, just imagine for a moment that you’ve not. Think deeply about how your opinions and preferences are not being debated or argued. You agree virtually on everything and the ride seems smooth.

This was my exact experience with one guy (call him Mr. A.) during my undergraduate days. Fortunately, he was one of my roommates and most of the time we couldn’t wait to share our views whenever we witnessed a particular scene together, heard the same message, shared experiences from relationships to fellowship. Everything was almost SAME… Sometimes, it was boring because I would get tired of myself, meaning I got tired of Mr. A. too (my other self. Smiles).

Fast forward to life after school, a guy named Mr. B. needed to put up with me because of accommodation issues. Our lives were south to north apart. We argued on issues from religion to relationships, making a hill out of moles, swallowing humble pies and using avoidance as a tool for peace to reign. We most times had to agree to disagree. Right inside of me I knew something was missing and if peace must be rewarding, I needed to think differently and so, I came up with these three options.

First, my stands and opinions do not exclude another person’s opinions; it rather validates their opinions. Yes, it shows that we had different backgrounds, different upbringings, and different psychological and physiological influences. It confirms their identity, that they know who they are and so I began to celebrate the efforts it has taken Mr. B to morph into himself – his unique self.

Secondly, I began to embrace the challenges the friction brought. According to Adam Grant, “if two people always agree, it’s a sign that at least one of them isn’t thinking critically or speaking candidly. That difference of opinions doesn’t have to be threats, rather they should be an opportunity to learn, and intellectual friction isn’t a relationship bug, it’s a feature of education.”

Finally, I understood that looking out for perfection in another soul leads to a burnout. I should embrace their bravery, expect the best in them but be prepared for the worst.
So, the next time someone challenges our opinion by saying “ what makes you say that?” or “what do you know?”- they are challenging what we say, what we know and not “who we are”(our identity). Embrace it and add some spice to the dish you’re already served.

With these options we can be the FIRST to ensure PEACE!!

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