“Am I doing enough to promote peace?” Knowing that peace is an offspring of justice, and that without justice there can be no peace, peacemakers ask themselves, “Am I doing enough to promote justice?” These are questions that afflict many peacemakers.
It is paradoxical because in order to bring peace to the world, in an effective manner, one must be peaceful. But many bringers of peace live with some sort of peacelessness. “Blessed Unrest,” the title of Paul Hawken’s book, is what comes to my mind when I think about what moves peacemakers. Promoters of peace live with an inner restlessness that calls them to take action and do something to eradicate violence and bring peace to the world.
TWO WAYS VIOLENCE MANIFESTS ITSELF
Peace seekers want the end of violence, and the majority of them focus on the end of the so-called Direct Violence, the one that wounds and kills people fast. Unfortunately, few make the connection between this kind of violence and the other violence, the less visible one, the so-called Indirect, Structural, Systemic Violence, the one that through oppression and exploitation erodes hope, and wounds and kills slowly.
The truth is that Indirect Violence engenders Direct Violence. War, terrorism, social unrest, violent crime, and other forms of Direct Violence are rooted in the grounds of social injustice with its utter poverty and lack of opportunities. That is where ideas of change through violent means are born and spread. Social injustice breeds despair which breeds violence. So when violence erupts and becomes visible, we are called to remember the other violence, the one that is not so visible. Peace seekers who want the end of the visible violence are called to work to put an end to the invisible one.
THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF EXACERBATED COMPETITION
We live in a non-peaceful world. Unrest seems to be the norm in our modern societies. Many forces are at play to constantly put people in some state of disquiet. Many are pushed to participate in the fight of egos early in their lives. They are taught to see themselves as separated from others, and pushed to prove their superiority in all fronts of life. They grow up being compared with others, and, sadly, they end up living pitiful and unsatisfying existences. They are the ones who are constantly comparing themselves with others. If they are not number one — if they are not at the top — they are not happy. They derive their sense of worth from competing, winning and defeating. Think about it… People are conditioned to believe, for instance, that to finish in second place, even among the best in the world, is reason to be ashamed.
Immersed in an environment of constant comparison and competition — feeling that they are not enough — people are, then, seduced by the promise that they may placate that sense of worthlessness, and the inner void they feel, through consumption, which in many cases may lead to over consumption, uncontrolled debt, and unnecessary accumulation.
Unfortunately, this is the process that down the line fuels exploitation and social injustice. In other words, there are many forces at play that move individuals away from experiencing satisfaction, recognizing who they are — their intrinsic worth — what they already have, and what they have achieved already.
Systems currently in place do not promote self-recognition of one’s innate worth independent of comparison and competition. Systems current in place do not promote gratitude and peace of mind. The prevailing paradigm is that we are separated from one another. Our interconnection, interdependence, and the importance of cooperation is not emphasized. It seems that we have created a world of perennial unrest and permanent nonsatisfaction; people feel uneasy if they are not competing all the time. People feel guilty if they pause, even if just for a short moment, to appreciate life and give thanks. They feel they need to demand more and more and more of themselves all the time.
It can be argued that inner peace is independent of external conditions. A destitute man can be peaceful while one who is materially rich and has his physiological and safety needs more than met may live in despair. Wealth alone does not guarantee joy and fulfillment in life. But peace, both inner and outer, is more likely to be found in just societies, those where individuals have organized themselves in such ways that all members have their basic needs met and have opportunities to develop themselves to be the best that they can be in order to give their best contributions to humanity.
By doing what we were brought here to do; by doing what we do best; by doing what we love, we bring our best contributions to the world. By doing all this, we are happy, and simply by being happy we bless the world around us with happiness and peace.
A society where many of its members live without their basic needs met is not and cannot be a peaceful society. The potential for social unrest is everpresent. Repression and fear can curb discontentment only for a time.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The paradox is that in order to promote peace one must be peaceful, while, at the same time, in order to promote justice, the prerequisite for peace, one must experience some sort of affliction. Inner unrest calls for action that many times calls for and brings up social unrest. In order to promote social justice we are called to review the ways we have organized ourselves to live on the planet, and do away with those structures that exploit the vulnerable in order to preserve the privileges of the powerful. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., known as mighty peacemakers, were leaders of social reform movements which, through the application of nonviolent active resistance, successfully brought about more just societies, while generating no shortage of social unrest in the process.
Am I doing enough?
Each individual is different, and each one has different gifts to offer to the world. Some are called to get directly involved in the movements for social change. Some are called to offer support in other ways. Each one shall contribute according to their talents and skills. Some are bold, courageous and outspoken. Others are more reserved. Each one is different. Each one of those who feel called to work for peace must find the way that best suits his personality. We have to find our way of contributing to create a more just and peaceful world.
Working on our own selves to enhance our peacefulness is a must. Many times, the sole presence of a peaceful being softens hearts, enhances compassion, calms down individuals, and brings about more justice and peace to places of conflict.
In a environment of unrest, where there is so much violence, how can we bring peace? What can we do? What can I do? Am I doing enough?
In all honesty, I don’t have conclusive answers to these questions, answers that could be be suitable for all. I guess each one has to find their own answers. Each one has to find and pursue his or her calling. Each one has to discover the way they feel they are best using their talents and skills to make the world a better place. For instance, my calling is to cultivate my inner peace and help people find and cultivate theirs. This is what I do through my inner work and my writings and workshops.
Am I doing enough?
I am not sure if what I am doing is enough, or will ever be enough, but, at least, I am doing something. I am trying to cultivate inner and outer peace. I am trying to reflect about peace, practice peace, and teach peace. I am trying to bring peace to everything I do, every person I meet.
Like all things in life, there is a circle of causation. It is true that justice is a prerequisite for peace, but I also feel that peace is a prerequisite for justice. Successful promoters of social justice begin with peace in their hearts. I believe that hateful hearts don’t go far in producing lasting peace. A peaceful society is the result of Social Justice and hearts full of love. The desire to promote Social Justice and the inspiration that will indicate the right, nonviolent actions to be taken are born in the hearts of those who cultivate Inner Peace.
Peace in our hearts brings peace to the world.
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.
If you would like to continue this exploration I invite you to read my books which are available at the Peaceful Ways online store. Let the conversation continue. Thank you. Piero
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”