In a culture and a world so often driven by anger, fear, and greed, when we choose instead to make choices with a gracious, grateful heart, honoring each of us has conditioning that can bring out the best or the worst in us, we take steps to create a more just and peaceful world.
It does take courage, patience, and perseverance even to be peaceful with our own inner critic. She may be the demanding voice we first heard on our home front or in school, telling us to “ get busy, don’t cry, listen to your elders” even when their words are hurtful, still undermining our self-worth into adulthood unless we learn to realize where these negative messages have come from, and delete their impact.
We can always choose to follow a path no one modeled for us. It will take perseverance, willingness to face our own dark sides, self-acceptance, and finding meaningful ways to be in community with others seeking a more peaceful lifestyle and learning more effective communication skills.
It helps to realize the history of Europe and our country is riddled with times of war, repression, revolt, and rebellion that continue into present time. When the needs and rights of others are ignored or silenced, peace isn’t likely. We have a long history of domination and submission, with struggles that were rarely resolved peacefully.
To be at peace, we need to first be kind, gentle and forgiving with ourselves before we can take time to be responsive in a nurturing way to others when their behavior or words irritate us. Our culture glorifies important, influential men from our presidents to cool film figures who solve problems by killing people. It is quick, sure, and still considered manly. So given such role models, it is no wonder we haven’t taught our children to value mediation and non-violent communication as effective ways to resolve tough problems. Creating peace has to do with respecting one another, honoring differences, and taking the time to understand and be in another’s shoes; these are not quick fixes.
We can choose thoughts that make us feel good, but we all have an inner dialogue of discomforting thoughts as well. We can make a choice to question beliefs that give us stress; often they aren’t necessarily true, or we can choose to believe “this too shall pass.” Discretion in what channels we allow our minds to focus on can help us feel more at peace, aware where we do have some power to make a difference. Peace does begin at home, in our own minds and our personal choices. As we make peace a priority in our interactions at every level, we model this new behavior for generations to come.