Sliding Otter News
December 19, 2009
Volume 1, Issue 24
Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one. ~ John Lennon.
At Christmas time we hope and pray for peace. But is it only a dream? In pursuing inspiration for this topic, I found that others have preceded me and spoken more eloquently than I can. Let me share some of their words with you.
What Peace Is Not
Indira Gandhi said, You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist. How can we reach out to others if we harden our hearts? Mother Theresa added, If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Instead of living as a world community we have divided into factions set against each other.
Jimi Hendrix seemed to quote William Gladstone, When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will have peace. Power once grasped is hard to release but power over others sets us against each other. Albert Einstein elaborated, Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. Not knowing and understanding our brothers and sisters leads us to fear them.
Francisco Petrarch wrote, Five enemies of peace inhabit us- avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perfect peace. It is easy to blame others for conflict. How often do we look for our own roadblocks? The Dalai Lama said, This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. Waiting to be shown the way to peace keeps us from starting on a peaceful path.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. Others can hear us talking about peace but won’t take us seriously until they see our peaceful acts. Henri Nouwen added, Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared. Once we try to grab peace for ourselves rather than share it with others, it shatters.
What Peace Is
Dorothy Thompson moves us toward a positive understanding of peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict. We can’t expect to agree on everything but must find ways to connect with each other. Albert Camus agreed. Peace is the only battle worth waging. What if we spent as much energy and money enhancing each others’ lives as we do trying to destroy each other?
Elsewhere Mother Theresa said, All works of love are works of peace. Somehow we must find a way to move from fearing and hating each other to mutual love and respect. Joan Chittister shares a key to peace, Awareness of the sacred in life is what holds our world together and the lack of awareness and sacred care is what is tearing it apart. She reminds us that peace involves a shared spiritual understanding of our world community.
Malcolm X said, You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has freedom. Our challenge is to find a way to make us all free. Pope John XXIII took this to an international level. The true and solid peace of nations consists not in equality of arms, but in mutual trust alone. The arms race made for a very nervous world. Opening our arms invites others to our embrace.
How We Can Find Peace
John Kennedy said, But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. Finding peace is not the job of just a few statesmen but the quest of our world community. Cicero wrote, Laws are silent in times of war. We are born to unite with our fellow men and to join in community with the human race. We can’t beat peace into each other. We must join hands and search for it together.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness. Being alone and needy gives us a chance to meet each other’s needs. Francis De Sales said, Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if the whole world seems upset. Approaching each other with our own peace helps us to work together for world peace.
Thomas Paine wrote, He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. None of us is at peace unless we all are. Yehudi Menuhin challenges us, Peace may sound simple- one beautiful word- but it requires everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal. Are we ready for the challenge?
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. ~ Matthew, V:9
Life Lab Lessons
How can you find peace within yourself?
What can you bring to the peace table?
What fears and hatreds keep you in turmoil?
Dare to risk opening yourself to those you don’t understand.
Work together to find a common path toward peace.