“Peace–From Where Does It Come?”
January 3, 2010 — Today begins the 14th year of the monthly International Peace Meditation. People from over 100 countries around the world, visitors to the Institute website, have shared messages of empowerment. We pray and meditate for peace together. We hold hopes for peace in our hearts.
Yet, the world marches on. Tribal wars; wars within families and civil wars within countries; wars between those of differing characteristics; and, now, global war by terrorism, continue. Is it any wonder we have difficulty finding peace when all of us are surrounded by, and, directly or remotely involved in, war? Let’s not deny it. It exists, and we are all affected by it. Philosophical wars between freedom and oppression are everywhere. They occur in terrorist plots, but they occur in personal relationships as well. Domestic violence is the miniature form of global terrorism. Both use fear and intimidation. Both are devoid of love as we might define it as caring for the needs of the other. Both are self-righteous in their stance. Both hurt the human spirit at times even more than the human body. Where is peace in the midst of this turmoil? Can we find it?
‘Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is the Presence of Love’. Sometimes, as I hear others, frustrated by the turmoil that exists, speak of peace with a disparaging tone, I realize that what they, too, are looking for will probably never exist. Humans wage war. Realistically, freedom has often been achieved for some by waging war. Standing up to bullies, whether on the individual level, or the global level, is often required to protect oneself from oppression. All we need to do is read the news for one day to recognize the struggles of those seeking democracy and freedom in the face of demagogues and dictators. Peace, found in freedom, has a huge price tag without guarantees. Even selecting when to wage peace is a critical decision.
So, how do we reconcile an International Peace Meditation with humans who seem, on the whole, to never want peace. Humans are warlike beings. Some kill for pleasure. Some kill for dominance. Some kill to retain or gain freedom. Some kill for revenge. But we kill and we don’t seem to know how we can ever stop in the face of the grave dangers that we all face.
It has been said, and demonstrated by some of our science fiction movies, that the only way humans will achieve peace is when they are forced to join together to oppose an outside enemy. Of course, they would first need to be able to recognize a threat to humanity, and to have made preparations about what to do in that event. That is one reason global organizations comprised of people around the world are so important. It is one way that we are already united toward common goals and have communication networks in place. Even then, we must be able to get past egos to be able to work together.
One organization that I so admire is Lions Clubs International. As an 20 year member, I have been amazed at the potential of just one organization. With 100% of donations used to address prevention and cure of blindness and many other issues including disaster relief, LCI demonstrates what can be accomplished when people have a global network with “feet on the ground” where relief is needed. There are many other effective organizations, such as the Red Cross. Using these as models, can we enhance and channel positive energy among the Leaders of countries to work together to lift up, rather than to tear down? If we don’t learn soon, I fear for future generations who will pay the price of pollution, and lack of energy, clean water, food, education, and medical care. Tremendous growth in technology that is available only to some, is widening the gap daily. Unless we can close these gaps, maintain financial independence and interdependence, and work together to save our common planet, we may be on the brink of a major collapse.
Most of us are too busy to heed the warnings. While I personally know little about science, what I have learned provides little comfort. Water and bacteria found on other planets reveal possibilities for other intelligent life in the universe. If we can’t get along on planet earth, how can we possibly be prepared for non-human visitors? The December 28, 2009, Fox News report (with Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, and Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York) that the Voyager Spacecraft has entered deep space, means that we may be about to take another huge leap in our understanding of the universe. Discoveries of huge space objects that could hit the earth and threaten humanity, mean that we need to work together globally to find a way to divert that occurrence. New viruses without an antidote could create a crisis equal to or worse than that of the Bubonic Plague. We need for our scientists to work together globally toward this effort. Now, the ability to clone animals provides information that could lead to human cloning. Without international controls, this may already be happening.
I love the holidays. Seeing my family together is my greatest joy. Even in the midst of great passion and joy at my family’s growth and personal accomplishments, I am aware of the threats to peace and human existence. I do not consider myself an alarmist. I do, however, consider that as a Leader of an international organization, it is my role to state what I see, and what I believe needs to be done to address it.
We must decide whether the continued existence of the human race is worth putting down our differences and working together. We must decide whether we can work together with people who don’t look like us or speak like us. We must seek common ground. We must develop personal philosophies that stand for the common good, and look for alternatives to war, while standing up to bullies. We must learn when to confront, and when to move forward and allow the other to learn his or her lessons.
We need to move away from materialism to spirituality. We need to move away from other’s interpretations of Love (God, Allah, Higher Power, Universal Intelligence, or whatever term we may use), to our own experience of Love. We need to believe our own experiences, and ignore those who would destroy our spirituality as they desperately cling to nothing. Ignorance of spiritual experience is no excuse for destroying the experiences of others.
We need to become very aware of the steps being taken in science in order to determine together what is appropriate for the common good. Is destruction of human life for convenience, or gender, ethical? Is the destruction of a human being for revenge justified, or is it better to give him/her time out of society to learn the lessons needed for spiritual evolution? These are controversial issues that are often subjected to emotion rather that reason. Is it appropriate to deny treatments that could sustain life for the financial gain of any institution? What do we really value? Do we value human life? If not, are we fully human?
These age-old questions are being put before us again as we are daily becoming more of a global community in spite of our resistance to that idea. Technology does not revert. Science does not go backward. The lessons learned from history can be looked at for relevance today. Maybe we need to re-think how to apply them in light of all that has been discussed here, and more.
As we each, daily, go about our lives in the consciousness of our human capacity to self-destruct as a race, and our, to-date, lack of ability to work together to address possible future threats to our human race, we need to find peace. How can we do it? I know of only one way.
Peace is truly an inside job. It is an individual endeavor. While we may come together to seek it, it still is found only internally. It is found through experience beyond faith and teachings. It is not talking about praying, but praying, that makes the difference. It is not teachings about meditation, but in simply finding a quite place, clearing one’s thoughts of daily worries, and listening, that makes the difference. It is not found only in buildings, but also in nature. It is not found only in family religion, but inside one’s own heart. Violating what one’s heart says will lead to personal turmoil. It is essential to know our own spiritual path, and not allow anyone else to take us off our path. Even humiliation and sarcasm must not be allowed to sway us from our own experience. I find that knowing that science appears to be catching up to, and validating, what many of us have already experienced to be a vital sign that we must keep moving forward regardless of what others think.
Many of us have been intrigued with the UFO phenomenon. Some have experienced humiliation and worse for speaking up. Evidence of the closing of the human mind through the disappearance of important witness experience and observations, may be a sign that we do not want to see what is really happening. Scientific discoveries as well as human observations during the past several decades point to something yet unexplainable occurring. Perhaps it is now time, beginning in 2010, to:
Believe our own experiences regardless of the ridicule of others.
Consciously put aside differences to work for human good.
Learn from history, but not assume that because war may have settled some differences in the past that it will continue to be the the answer for current issues.
Recognize that scientific discoveries are validating and extending our knowledge base at a rate previously never thought possible.
Recognize that the rate of change and increasing pollution in all areas is affecting our health, and seek to slow down internally to allow our bodies the ability to function optimally. This rapid rate of change and resulting stress may be contributing to increasing illnesses such as chronic pain and fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivities, food allergies, asthma, post-traumatic stress syndrome, autism, and many others that appear to be exploding.
The human spirit and body react to the stress of change. Pollution, whether mental or physical, has a price. Finding peace in the midst of the chaos surrounding us is essential to our well-being. However, sticking our heads in the sand may cause the downfall of the human race. With threats all around, we must find ways of working together that save us all. The alternative is simply not acceptable.
Peace. In the New Year, may you find internal Peace.
Sue Kidd Shipe, Ph.D. Executive Director
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