Using Tea as the Peacemaker

Lots of turmoil in the world. It ranges from international all the way down to one-on-one. Tea can play a role as peacemaker here. In fact, tea has been playing that role for some time now in various countries around the world. Maybe it’s time to start a “Stop and have a cuppa tea” campaign. Sort of like moms and dads would tell us as kids: “Count to ten before you respond.” Emotions flare up easily. That small bit of time can help cool things, even just a little, which helps a whole lot.

Time out – have a cuppa! (Image by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
Time out – have a cuppa! (Image by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Some Examples from Other Countries

In some cultures where tea is as integral to their lives as air is, tea has become a way to apologize, ask for forgiveness, and also to keep things from flaring up into heated events:

  • China – Serving tea can be a sign of respect. It can also be an act of attrition. When a young adult does something to anger his/her parents, making tea and offering it to them is a form of apology; if the parents take the tea and drink it, it is a sign that all is forgiven (or at least understood).
  • Turkey – Price haggling is almost the national pastime, but keeping it civil takes some finessing…not to mention a lot of tea!
  • Japan – In the Edo period (1603-1868), Japan’s samurai laid down their swords, entering these peaceful Chashitsu courtyards, and enjoying teas prepared with masterful precision. That simple bowl of tea was a moment of escape from harsh realities.

What to Do on a Personal Level

Most of us here are not in a position to affect things on such a grand scale, but we can improve personal relations with those in our immediate vicinity, be they family, friend, co-worker, neighbor, or mere acquaintance. Some ideas:

  • Hold a tea open house – hard for people to stay mad at folks who treat them with such hospitality (but it’s still possible, sad to say).
  • Have a tea time that abides by the Chashitsu rules – language is polite and the conversation revolves around tea.
  • Resort to the traditions of some of my ancestors (the ones who were here to greet those Europeans) – hold a sort of tea pow wow, were passing the pot of tea replaces that pipe of sacred tobacco, and where you can examine your issues and resolve your differences over those hot cuppas.

Maybe a “Tea for World Peace” Day needs to be declared!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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