“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Violence permeates our popular culture, not peace. For instance, when we turn on the television or read the paper, we often learn about violent crimes in our cities, such as a bloody assault or senseless murder. We learn of the terrorism and war in various places of the world. Many Hollywood films depict scenes of violence and bloodshed, such as wife abuse, gang war, rape, murder, police brutality. One of the most popular sporting events is The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where one man attempts to kick or punch his opponent into bloody submission. Many of the most popular video games are those in which brutality is the theme. Living in peace requires us to cultivate peace—not violence, not brutality, not bloodshed. First, we must embrace inner peace, a state of mind that is calm, tranquil, free of anger or resentment. Secondly, we must support people, institutions, and causes that promote world peace.
Threats to Inner Peace
Numerous unexpected events and personal experiences can threaten our peace of mind. For example, the sudden death of a loved one, unexpected job loss, worrying about financial burdens, arguing with a spouse, diagnosis of a serious illness, someone who is driving like a crazed maniac, a stranger who allows the door to slam in your face—these events can transform a mind that is like peaceful as a quiet, still lake into mental state that is like a stormy sea. When we are upset, our mental state of calm and tranquility is replaced by worry, or fear, or resentment, even anger.
Developing Inner Peace
Inner peace—the mental state of calmness and equanimity and even temper—comes from within. Each of us must make a decision to live in peace and then focus on developing and maintaining a peace mental state. There are many paths we can take to maintain or develop a peaceful state of mind. Here are a few suggestions:
- Let it go. When people are rude or respectful or insulting, let it pass. Otherwise the toxic emotion will fester in your mind, preventing you from living in peace.
- Let it be. We often want to change people and situations we don’t like. When we are unable, we often become angry or frustrated, which will disrupt our desire to live in peace. Often the best way of dealing with a situation or person you have no control over is to just “let it be.” Life often unfolds unpredictably.
- Learning to meditate. A simply method is mindful meditation, sitting in a quiet place, closing our eyes, focusing on the breathing—the inhale exhale. Mediation clears and calms the mind, and develops our ability to prevent knee-jerk reactions.
- Make the decision to live mindfully. First, we can slow down, become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and the environment. Instead of being lost in thought and reacting without thinking, we can learn to live in the present moment, which allows us to become aware of our thoughts and feelings, as well as the sensory details of the moment, instead of reacting to our people and situations in our environment without thinking.
- Learn to control the emotion of anger. Anger is a normal human emotion. However, if we lash out, use our words as a weapon or respond with physical force, we can damage human relations, injury ourselves, or get in trouble with the law. We can learn to control our anger by distancing ourselves from toxic people or situations that trigger this emotion. We can engage in self-talk to calm our rage. We can learn to respond in an assertive way instead of aggressive. Buddha once said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
- Embrace compassion. We must learn to see the world from other people’s perspective and attempt to help those in need. Indifference is the seed that creates resentment and violence in others.
- Live by the golden rule. In other words, we ought to always treat others the way you desire to be treated—with dignity, kindness, and respect. Mother Teresa once said, “Peace begins with a smile.” When we live by the Golden Rule, others are more apt to reciprocate.
There will always be threats peace and security or global conflict around the world. At any given moment in world history, most people are aware of civil war, war between states, human rights abuse, genocide, authoritarian governments who terrorize their citizens, the constant threat of nuclear war and annihilation of humanity, and, in recent years, terrorism has become the ultimate enemy of people who embrace democracy, the market economy, freedom, and justice. These threats and conflicts generate anger, resentment, suspicion, worry, and fear with the psyche of humanity. These threats and conflicts also cause stereotyping, prejudice, and racism.
Supporting Global Peace
The vast majority of citizens of the global village seek to live in peace and security, to be happy and prosperous, to be free of pain and suffering. We can strive to live in peace by supporting and promoting people, institutions, and causes that embrace global peace. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Elect politicians who promote peaceful solutions to global conflict.
2. Whenever a global conflict occurs that is important to you, participate in a peace march or rally.
3. Support nuclear disarmament and the reduction of sale of arms to third world tyrants.
4. When there is global conflict, express your views to your local elected politician.
5. Give to charities that support humanitarian causes and not war.
6. Support only “Just War,” such as war that ends genocide or self-defence to evil. As well, support war as a last option. It should never be the first choice of any leader.
Benefits of Peace
Living peacefully has many benefits for all of humanity. Here are three: First, peace is a practise we can use to develop our spiritual selves. Secondly, peaceful living will improve our life satisfaction, happiness, and well-being. Thirdly, supporting global causes and leaders who promote peace and not war will prevent the world from plummeting into a state of nuclear annihilation.
Living in peace requires each of us to cultivate a peaceful state of mind, not retribution, and embrace global peace, not war. Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”