Making International Day of Peace Personal

The last paragraph on the International Day of Peace website states:

“International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind.”

I’d like to focus on that last paragraph; that is the only thing you and I have any control of. There are those who will say that there are mean, hurtful, crazy people out there and there is nothing we can do to change them, yet I submit that at the root of whatever we perceive is their behavior or attitude, is a human being, and human beings need love. The 19th century mystic Ranier Maria Rilke observed “Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. stated “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

How many times have I been in a situation where an expression of love toward my fellow man could have made a difference, yet I withheld that love? Many, many, many times, I am embarrassed to say. Each of us can play an important part in preventing violence, in creating a peaceful world. To do this, and here’s the challenge, we must do everything we can to remove every trace of hostility in ourselves, and replace it with love and compassion. The violence we see in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our homes is the inevitable expression of the violence and hostility in our own heart. Violence is like an infectious disease – we worry about swine flu and want to get a flu shot – gee, can we get a nonviolence shot? Whenever we say hurtful or hostile words, or even act in a hostile way, we are passing this disease on to those around us. When we argue with our family, it is not just a domestic problem, we indeed are adding to violence everywhere.

Conversely, when we interact with others coming from a place of love and compassion, we are contributing to the consciousness of a peaceful world. We get to choose – and no matter what, it really is a choice, we are not helpless. Something amazing happens when we interact with others from a place of love – their attitude towards us changes! Hostility disappears; a smile takes the place of a red face. Gandhi was a model for this, violence, hostility and resentment in his heart was gone, replaced by love, and no one was afraid of him, not even the warrior Badshah Khan. So powerful was Gandhi’s model, Khan transformed his entire army of warriors into an army of peaceful, nonviolent warriors.

In closing, a reminder that this is the 50th anniversary of The Beatles. The Beatles reminded us that “All You Need Is Love” and I echo that sentiment. The question is, will we spread our love to everyone we meet, or withhold our love in judgment and retribution? I choose to treat everyone in a loving way, because by extending love, I create peace, and Peace Begins With ME!