Monday, December 8, 2014

Peace by any Other Name

During this Christmas season, we send cards with the slogan Peace on Earth, or we remind ourselves of the ‘wish for world peace,’ ‘let there be peace on earth,’ ‘give peace a chance,’ ‘peace brings the world together,’ ‘peace is possible,’ ‘peace is our gift to each other,’ ‘peace is the way for a better day,’ ‘peaceful resolution is the best solution,’ ‘where there is love there is peace,’ ‘war is expensive, peace is priceless,’ ‘let’s have peace,’ etc.

If that’s the wish of all people why has peace still evaded us?
I once read a book called the “Anatomy of Peace” by the Arbinger Institute where the authors ask some very profound questions: What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause?  What is their conclusion? The choice between peace and war lies within us.  As one of the characters says, "A solution to the inner war solves the outer war as well." This book offers more than hope -- it shows how we can prevent the conflicts that cause so much pain in our lives and in the world.

“If the way of peace is to succeed, it must offer a substitute for everything war now offers.”
~ Dr. Deepak Chopra, author of the Peace is the Way: “Bringing War and Violence to an End.”

What is the meaning of Peace?
Peace is defined by a freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility, calm and serenity; privacy and solitude; also ease and contentment.
Peace can also be law and order, harmony and non-violence; absence of violence and war.

“There is no other way to peace.  Peace is the way.”
~Mahatma Ghandi

Why is it so hard to create Peace? 
For once, it is an abstract term, an invisible value, a dream, a vision, something nobody has ever seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted.  But so are terminologies such as love, beauty, truth, and goodness.  There are values we all strive for but we all have different ideas of what they mean. 

"The democratic world places value upon the individual person because each one is a child of God. The greatest care must be taken to assure each individual's liberty and freedom of choice, for without liberty, a person's actions have no value." 
~ Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon - Challenges and Possibilities for World Peace, June 1, 1987

How can we overcome that internal struggle?
It is no wonder that we are fighting wars between countries when the actual conflict starts in our own mind. Have you ever become aware of the internal battle in your own mind?  Or the struggle your head puts up when your heart says something else?  Or witnessed the arguments and repetitive slogan your negative mind plays over and over again?  That conflict happens when one part of you disagrees with what the other part is doing. Or the clash of your mind and body when the alarm goes off 6:00 AM and you would rather stay in bed than get up and go to work? 

As we discovered before, the values we are striving for are all invisible.  The way we can manifest anything into the physical realm is through experience and practice.  The same way an athletes have to train day in and day out or a musician has to rehearse the scales before she can play a beautiful song, the daily repetition brings him the perfect result.  And even with all the drills and repeats the probability of success is only 3 out of 10 or some similar rate; practice and training make perfect score.

How can we ever achieve that mind-body unity?
Since the dawn of times the individual and mankind as a whole have been striving to create peace while conquering each other, while battling and fighting war at the same time.

The moment we forget that man is not only a physical being but a creature with spirit and soul, we are always faced with challenges.  And they are not only encounters of relationships.  Darrel Scott, the father of Rachel Scott who died in the Columbine High School tragedy, says it best:

"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact.
What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws.
Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.”
~ Darrell Scott, Father of Rachel Joy Scott, victim of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999

As Darrel mentions we have pushed all spiritual elements out of our schools and education systems, in fact out of almost every aspect of our society.  Why can’t spirituality without any particular religious flavor be part of our everyday lives?

“People say to me, ‘but if I simply accept reality then I will become passive and nothing will change.  I answer them with this question. Which of these statements makes more sense? "I wish I hadn't lost all that money.’ or ‘what can I do now to create more income?’
Accepting ‘what is’ doesn't mean you settle for the way things are, it just means you give up all the resistance and inner struggle by wishing it were different.”
~ Robert Anthony, Author and Self-help guru

How can we become Peace-Makers?
In his book “Peace is the Way” Deepak Chopra writes about war being a myth which provides an outlet for national vengeance, it satisfies the demands of fear, it brings power to the victor, it provides security to the homeland, and it opens an avenue for getting what you want by force.  He talks about being addicted to war just like to any other bad habit.

The first step to any change is awareness.  We all can practice peace every day by changing our habits and mindsets. Chopra salutes conflict resolution, voting, and finding concrete ethical ways of supporting nonviolence.  Dr. Chopra suggests a seven step process to replace addiction to a way of love.

One practice for each day:

Sunday:        Being For Peace

Monday:        Thinking For Peace

Tuesday:       Feeling For Peace

Wednesday:  Speaking For Peace

Thursday:     Acting For Peace

Friday:          Creating For Peace

Saturday:      Sharing For Peace

I am glad that Dr. Chopra includes the existence of God as necessity for finding a way to peace.  He says that the way of peace isn't based on religion or morality. It doesn't ask us to become saints overnight, or to renounce our feelings of anger or our thirst for revenge.  The way of peace is based on the same thing that ushered in the age of science: a leap in consciousness.

Next week I will explore more ways as to how peace can come about.

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