August 6, 2013 marks the 68th anniversary of the horrific atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Other than the subsequent bomb dropped on Nagasaki, thankfully we have not used another nuclear weapon to kill, although we continue to use bombs and guns and missiles to kill each other. I keep asking – “Why do my fellow human beings think that killing is an answer? Why do people continue to kill their brothers and sisters?””
And not just at war. Just recently, a young man was killed for trying to steal a crowbar from a Wal-Mart in Garland, Texas. Have we become so totally disconnected from the sanctity of life that we allow people to be killed for shoplifting? Yes, we allow it, because each and every one of us contributes to the consciousness underlying killing, whether the killing be through war or shoplifting.
John F. Kennedy understood this. I believe he was the last world leader who truly understood the importance of, and the power of, the individual. He recognized, honored and encouraged each person taking action and ownership of what happens in the world. You may ask – how does this relate to seemingly senseless killings? It relates because each and every one of us contributes to the consciousness of our communities, to the consciousness of our planet. Yes, we are all connected, and what I do makes a difference, even though I may have absolutely no idea of how or why.
In a June 1963 speech on disarmament at American University, JFK said “… every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward – by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace …”
To me, these words are empowering, inspiring, and hopeful. Can you imagine every person, every day, looking inward and examining her or his own attitude toward the peace? Can you imagine in every interaction, if people got in touch with what was alive for them, how they could bring about a peaceful resolution to any conflict? If we can imagine it (and YES we can!) then we can create it.
JFK continued this idea in a speech to the UN. He said “… peace does not rest in charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people … let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace, in the hearts and minds of all our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.”
And so the question becomes – What am I willing to do for peace? Am I willing to raise my voice, to speak up for justice? Am I willing to be a model for nonviolence in my community? Not just rail AGAINST violence or injustice or inequity, not just give lip-service that killing one another is deplorable, but to stand FOR a nonviolent community, to stand FOR justice and respect and tolerance and equality, to take action FOR a nonviolent world. Folks, it’s the only way I know – to get off my butt and get involved, do my part (and I hope you will, too!) because I absolutely know – Peace begins with ME!