How to create peace on earth

In my last post, “Creating peace on earth,” I tried to arouse your desire to take the peace you’re hopefully creating within out into the world. Saying I thought that together we could transform the hellish aspects of life on planet Earth in the early 21st century into comparative heaven, I promised some ideas on how to do this “in the coming days.”

This post is at least a beginning on that.

The first thing we have to do to create peace in the “outer” world is to cultivate it within. Because if we don’t bring real peace, real love, and real calm to our brothers and sisters in desperate, conflicted situations, we’ll just end up increasing the misery. If our motives are egoistic or based on an entrenched point of view, we need to go home and do some inner work. Are we bringing more anger, blame, and judgment into the world? That’s counterproductive. Are we just trying to make ourselves feel better, heal our own confusion? We need to own that and be aware of how it can hurt rather than help. We’re human beings, not angels, so we can’t wait to be perfect, but we need to be honest with ourselves and others about where we are in any given moment.

Going out into the world, we may encounter people who are angry and desperate enough to kill or otherwise grievously hurt themselves and others. Can we meet those people, or others lacking in skill and/or understanding where they are, with acceptance and compassion? Sometimes yes, if, as I said in my previous post, we’ve been “cultivating peace within – following a spiritual path and meditating or having quiet moments of just being – open to messages from that part of our intuition that’s a spark of the divine, our connection with everything and everyone else.” Sometimes no, because we’re human, and we fall back easily into a narrow, egoistic perspective. Sometimes, as noted above, the best we’ll be able to offer will be our honesty, admitting that we’re frightened or confused, wanting to be able to (fill in the blank), but having trouble doing that, because (fill in the blank).

We’ll be constantly moving between the inner and the outer, recharging alone and going back out. And we’ll need to strive as much and as often as possible to give ourselves the same understanding, love, and compassion – “empathy,” as Nonviolent Communicators call it – we want to be able to offer others. Feel the love and acceptance in the air, with no boundaries, because – and here comes another #1 – we are really one. What hurts others hurts me. As long as one of my brothers and sisters is in prison, I’m not free. Isn’t that why you want to do this work in the first place?

The third #1 that I want you to be aware of is – full disclosure – a belief of mine that you may not agree with; but I want to share it with you because of the urgency of solving the problems that concern us – also because I’d rather see you/us experience success and avoid frustration. It’s this: our current global and national political and economic system is fundamentally flawed, untruthful, and can never solve the problems it continues to create. I’m talking about the United States, in my eyes the most violent terrorist entity ever, and capitalism, whose profit motive prevents us from solving problems like environmental catastrophe, poverty, and war, to name a few. Gun control in the wake of the killing of little children in Newtown, Connecticut is, thankfully, a big issue right now, but we can’t have a clear discussion about it because of the gun lobby, the people who profit from the sale of automatic and other weapons and ammunition.

You can read my ideas about these kinds of issues, based on the third #1, elsewhere on this blog (and there’ll be more in the future) – basically, what I’m saying here is that I think working within the system and expecting our “leaders” to solve problems is a pipe dream, a waste of time. We have to take matters into our own peaceful but determined hands, and create alternatives that will eventually replace the forces, practices, and institutions that run things now.

So, there you have it – my three #1s:

  • A spiritual practice that keeps you in touch with and accepting of what’s true for you and others in each successive moment;
  • Love for yourself and others, including all life, because we’re one; and
  • (this one’s optional) a realization that the current political and economic system won’t solve the problems that most concern us.

Once you have these primary goals/ideas/practices as a base to start from, you can work on whatever kind of problem draws you in most strongly. Do you want to be a peacemaker between struggling humans? Between humans and the environment? Work on the welfare of animals? The list could go on forever – there’s plenty to choose from.

Maybe I should have added a fourth #1 to the list, because something else to remember is that, as I said in my previous post, our individual acts can inspire others. “But we also need to get together – to organize and form affinity groups for both mutual support and planning actions and campaigns. Getting together multiplies our power exponentially, and history shows that when we’re steadfast in it, not even the mightiest government can stand against us. Hitler and Stalin are no more, and the American ‘evil empire’ won’t last forever either. Another world really is possible.”

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, it will come as no surprise that my area of interest is world affairs, especially – because I’m a U.S. citizen – U.S. foreign policy. I feel partially responsible for trying to halt the U.S. death machine – the killing of innocent people (and, really, they’re all innocent, in the sense that violence never solves anything, and we’re all capable of causing harm) to create and maintain an empire and advance capitalist business interests.

I’ve also been big on ending injustice all my life, and one of the many epitomes of injustice for the past 60 years has been the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government, supported by the United States government. Which brings up a corollary to the third #1: Never take any government’s propaganda, perpetrated these days via the mass media, at face value. You have to look deeper, because governments are always lying, at least in part, to cover their real motives. The latest example of this, which I have yet to fully unravel, is the “need” to fight Islamic terrorists in northern Mali. Something funny’s going on between the United States and Algerian governments here (bearing in mind that Algeria is a dictatorship), and you can bet that the regular, real people on the ground (Tuaregs and others) have a different story to tell. But I digress…

What tools and resources can you find to help you and your group(s) with the work you want to do?

For basic support and understanding of principle #1, read Miguel Ruiz, Erhart Tolle, Byro Katie, or Adyashanti – a lot of what they’ve written is online (videos, too). The Zen Peacemakers have a website, as does the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Starhawk is a favorite resource of mine – read her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, or her books on pagan spirituality, or find her website online to see what she’s doing and blogging about.

Also, if you haven’t already, check out the work of Marshall Rosenberg and others in Nonviolent Communication. (Rosenberg has a book with that title, and others, and there’s much online, including videos.) We’ve learned a violent (separated) way of looking at the world and communicating with each other that we don’t even recognize as such. Communicating the NVC way (When I see/hear…, I feel …, because I need …Would you be willing to (specific action)?) can seem stilted when you first try it, and it takes years of practice to make it a habit, but you need this tool in your kitbag.

For your specific interest(s), ask others, read books and periodicals, and look online. Because of my specific interest(s), the tools I’d focus on – if I were doing more than, to be honest, just reading and writing this blog – would be things like tax resistance, the International Solidarity Movement, the Global Nonviolent Peace Force, and Witness for Peace (Google these terms to find out more). Queued up on my bookmarks to explore further this week are Naomi Klein on capitalism and climate change (a Moyers and Company video), open source ecology, A Manifesto for Nonviolent Revolution, and the 2012 Global Peace Index.

The works of Gene Sharp, available on the Albert Einstein Institution website, are invaluable for the kind of world peace organizing I’m interested in. I have much of Sharp’s work in hard copy and will let you know more when I’ve had a chance to read it. (Or you can let me know more when you have a chance to read it!)

Remember the story I told you in my previous post about David Hartsough, one of the founders of the Global Nonviolence Peace Force, and what he said to a white racist attacker when he (David) was sitting in at a lunch counter helping to desegregate it? Go back and read it if you haven’t yet. I said I was going to tell you more about David, but I still haven’t had time to research him. You can though – he seems like a leader in what we’re trying to do.

I’ll keep offering ideas, examples, and models…How about you? What do you have to offer, even if it’s just a question. Or a disagreement. Let’s start a conversation, and maybe form some partnerships or affinity groups.

About (They Got the Guns, but) We Got the Numbers

I'm an artist and student of history, living in Eugene, OR. On the upside of 70 and retired from a jack-of-all-trades "career," I walk, do yoga, and hang out with my teenage grandkids. I believe we can make this world better for them and the young and innocent everywhere, if we connect with each other and create peaceful, cooperative communities as independent of big corporations and corporate-dominated governments as possible.

Posted on January 20, 2013, in Capitalism, Change, Communication, Israel as a threat to peace and democracy, Mainstream media, Meditation, Miguel Ruiz, Non-violence, Politics, Relationship, Resources, Solidarity, Spirituality, The current system, Uncategorized, US foreign policy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Maggie,
    Your three #1s are magnificent!
    What has been upper most in my mind lately is how to listen to this inner voice that informs how to be in the world; as you said, to be “open to messages from that part of our intuition that’s a spark of the divine, our connection with everything and everyone else.”

    Until just the last few days, my egoic mind was still prompting me to DO something rather than just BE who I am in every moment. My daughter, Kathy, reminded me in a conversation a few nights ago, that how I move in the world IS my DOING! I always think of it as just being myself, and that THAT’s not enough. Now I know that it is enough at this time, and may be for the rest of my human life. The world, run by the ego, values doing above everything. It has been hard for me to disengage from that energy, and to be in alignment with what values Being.

    There may come a time when I’m prompted by this deeper Self to do something more formally. I’m getting very attuned to knowing whether the prompting is coming from the egoic self or this wiser self, so I’m less likely to involve myself in something that is egoiclly driven.

    I’ve watched for many years the ways in which humanity tries to “fix” our problems, and I see clearly that we are using the same thinking that created the problems in the first place, so I’m unwilling to put any energy into any of those efforts. I will do the small things that I know are inspired by this infinite wisdom, because this is simply how it works. I think we all are an expression of this infinite wisdom, and so each of us will find our own way to Be in the world. The movement of Being is to bring Itself into alignment with Itself.
    Deep Regards
    Judi

  2. Hi, Judi —

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    I just read your latest post on “The Tempered Idealist,” and am thinking about all this in connection with my post for today, “A child creates peace.” Ocean’s situation with his classmates at recess reminds me of the conflict you describe between your daughter and your housemate. In each situation there are dialogues between either the whole group or various participants in which everyone involved needs empathy and respect. When everyone feels “at ease,” as you say, or “safe,” because they’ve received enough of these things, they’re ready, if desired, to strategize about ways they might deal with conflict more empathically and respectfully in the future.

    Bad sparks seem to fly when parts of our “constructed selves,” as you call them, or, we could say, our egos, are triggered, usually in fear. Then we want to lash out at the person or people who seem have “caused” our uncomfortable feelings. In milder cases, we just think we “naturally” dislike them to some degree, and we may not say anything, just put up a barrier. They may not perceive the barrier consciously, but they’ll get it on some level, and probably “dislike” us in return.

    I’ve read more than once that world peace could probably be at least temporarily achieved if we earthlings were attacked from outer space. Instead, as often as we can remember to do it, let’s allow our minds to fly up into outer space and see our teapot tempests and ego tantrums from a wider perspective.

    Thanks for sharing this learning!

    Love, Maggie

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