A way forwards that is good for your health, and for the world.
“It should be abundantly clear that planetary peace requires more than a little nudge. It requires a great turnaround. Genuine peace represents a whole new order of being and an evolutionary reframing…. We were born for such a time as this.” So thinks James O’Dea, former Washington Office Director of Amnesty International. In his book, “Cultivating Peace,” O’Dea investigates a more “holistic approach to peace work, covering its oft-ignored cultural, spiritual, and scientific dimensions.” He maintains that peace building demands introspection within communities and within oneself in order for progress to be made. O’Dea is involved in what he describes as a “Social healing project.” He asks us to consider ways that we can initiate true peace that begins with our own thought and that brings healing.
I think that is a great start; but having attended many peace meetings over the years, the one thing I have always come away with is the thought, “but what does that mean for me?” Do I just work on ways to feel more peaceful, while excluding the troubles and trials of the world? Or is there work that requires the disciplining of my thoughts?
Looking at the current riots and tensions in the Middle East, the harsh rhetoric and reaction in the politics of many countries – even peaceful ones – the violence in prisons, and the problems of gang warfare in quiet neighborhoods, I asked myself what was common to them all?
It was the thought of reaction.
Yes, I react too; but now that I have noticed this commonality, I challenge my tendency to react. Do I really want to add to the tensions and reactions worldwide? How does reacting help my own sense of peace and health? It doesn’t. But learning to control anger does contribute to not only my personal well-being, but the health of the world. Perhaps one practical key to this worldwide turnaround that O’Dea is talking about is learning to rein in the tendency to react in everyday situations, as well as to the larger world events displayed daily over the news.
This takes a certain discipline. But it is not the kind that holds one’s breath and counts to ten. Rather, it is the kind that turns to a form of prayer – a prayer that both quietens and reassures at the same time. I have found that Christian Science prayer begins to do this by turning me – even in my anger – to a God who is pure Love and who sees only good.
Instead of tumbling into the emotions of anger, resentment, fear and frustration, this prayer can lift one above the fray to where one can perhaps see answers rather than reaction, and where one feels safe and peaceful rather than angry and afraid.
Humanity is thinking about the idea that we cannot continue to act and react as we have done throughout history. Newer, more practical ways of gaining a sense of peace are beginning to surface and to be discussed. Last weekend a community centre in Victoria viewed and discussed a documentary about how mindfulness meditation helps young offenders in remand centers deal with their violent thoughts and actions. Fresh initiatives that demand dialogue rather than rhetoric give us all a chance to consider the healthy aspects of building peace within ourselves, and within our family, our neighbors and our world.