A peacemaker takes people in pain and anger and, if she is good, leaves them with less intense bad feelings, able to picture a time when they will reconcile and forgive each other.
Many people want to make peace, but it is an art few people master. Inartful attempts to make peace remind me of Rodney King’s “can’t we all just get along?” Convincing people to pretend it was all a misunderstanding and that everybody actually loves each other is not peacemaking. There are situations where this may be the case, mutual misunderstanding leads to war. But until the hurts are acknowledged, you might as well just squirt lighter fluid on the smoldering ashes.
Making peace is hard, often impossible, but blessed work, and the principle is simple and universal.
The first requirements are humility and empathy toward the parties. Judging the angry parties does not help make peace, only understanding the harsh reality of their feelings does. The peacemaker cannot make peace (except in the case of the Colt .45 sardonically named The Peacemaker, which left the quarrelsome party silent at the end of the session)– the peacemaker can only bring calm, patience and listening skills to a situation from which these elements have fled.
The power of calm, patience and listening cannot be overstated. It is aggravating not to be heard. “I know what you are about to say and you seem unwilling to admit the possibility that you’re completely wrong,” is a poor strategy for a would-be peacemaker.
Good luck to those who would be peacemakers, the impulse is commendable. Few things in this troubled world are more blessed than making peace where there was implacable hostility. Don’t forget, though, to check your own frustration at the door before you attempt it. That’s all I’m saying.