Peace is not easy right now because it is coming from the inside out, like a “cat in a paper bag.” We are re-programming an entire system with vast inertia, requiring that we hold down the ON button with all the resources of our care and attention. I am very, very sad about the damage that has been done. Perhaps the narcissism of our culture of competition leads to the nihilism of violence. I don’t know. Whatever it is, it is very tragic and sad, all that lost potential. All that lost Love. I cannot bear to dwell on the thought. I am also very, very scared about our ability to stay buckled into our seats for the wild ride in the years ahead. The real work of the activists for Peace, it seems to me, is to be so accepting of others that they can then accept themselves just as they are, and get a little self-respect so they can take the next step toward claiming peace for themselves.
Perhaps self-respect is the broken bottom line, perhaps this is where outrage numbs out, chokes up, stalls. How many people ever thought that we DESERVE an end to violence? I think it’s very real in our culture that many of us, most of us, secretly think so little of ourselves and our lives that we deserve to be annihilated, squashed, splattered, and as we think of ourselves, so we think of others. No real value among us, just dog-eat-dog competition for the table scraps. This is all very unconscious, and if confronted, it would be denied, yet I believe it is true.
I rest in the absolute certainty that I am not in charge of anything other than my own willingness to be present and responsive to the wisdom of my heart. Our heart. Perhaps in this crisis, we will finally be motivated to teach ourselves the lessons of nonviolence. It will take some time, some practice, some real effort, and genuine courage to do what we have never done before. All we need is the conviction, as it is so popular to say in political speech these days, that “We can do it,” with the emphasis on WE. Let’s have a real, honest-to-God conversation about violence in our community.
Violence comes essentially from an inner panic of feeling abandoned, alone, and unsupported in a situation that is out of control. We all — yes, ALL — have a shadow side that can empathize with this feeling, and we all — yes, ALL — have the capability of responding with mature, disciplined compassion to it. We made our culture of violence, we support it, and it is time to undo what we have done. Violence can be unlearned. We can show our neighbors some hospitality, some forgiveness, some human tenderness, be their partner when their life has gone downhill.
How we use our energy in relationship with others determines our true wealth. What makes us truly wealthy is partnerships, relationships of unity around purposeful actions.
My true wealth has multiplied exponentially in the last three years, as I have invested more than I ever thought I possibly could in time, energy, and money into the campaign for a Department of Peace. My experience of serenity and satisfaction has become more unshakable in direct correlation with the growth of my investment.
I invite you to invest in Peace, to take a risk, to stretch yourself, to start small if you need to, and add more later. Ask yourself, would an investment of time, energy or money make me feel more wealthy or less wealthy in my sense of partnership? If not now, when? If not me, then who?
We live in a time of great change, when it has become more and more obvious with every passing day that power over others through aggression wastes energy and produces repeating cycles. Nothing is now more important than breaking that cycle by learning how to create the joy, wonder, and power of people working together in community.
Let the cynics say it’s impossible. Let us prove them wrong.