WINGS OF A DOVE
If you had to list some great concerns you have for the planet today, what would they be? The chances are that you would mention the lack of global peace amongst them. Yet most often we feel powerless to do anything about it, don’t we? So is there anything we can do to help build a safer planet? At the invitation of the international TOS, long time peace activist, Deni Gross, shares some suggestions.
Almost everyone wishes to work in some way to promote peace. However, the task may seem so daunting that it’s difficult to know where to begin to put our efforts. First of all, it’s important to realize that we can work for peace in a variety of ways. Creativity is the key. It also helps to first break down this concept of peacework into two equally important parts, each requiring different approaches: (1) personal peace, which includes not only finding peace within ourselves, but also practising peaceful relationships with our family members, friends, co-workers, etc. and within our immediate, local environments; and (2) global peace, or working to bring peace to the entire planet, usually associated with ending warfare and/or correcting other social injustices and inequalities. This article will attempt to offer practical, easy-to-do suggestions for work on both levels. We invite you to try one or more of the following and see what works best for you.
Achieving a sense of personal peace is a very subjective thing; however, most people seem to feel that it means finding some sort of calmness and happiness both within ourselves and in our relationships with others, which causes us to lose any desire for domination or ill will. In fact, when we reach that point of achieving personal peace, we stop looking to either the past or the future for happiness, for we find joy in the present moment. When things do go wrong, we no longer blame others; neither do we look to others to fulfil us. All we desire, we find within ourselves, in whatever place we happen to be at that moment. What are some ways to work towards achieving this beautiful state of personal, inner peace?
- Take some time each day to go ‘into the silence’. Meditate, pray or otherwise quieten the mind for at least a few minutes to find that peaceful place within, where we contact our own higher Self and make a connection with the source of all life. If possible, use this time to also send peaceful thoughts to others.
- Make our homes places of peace. Turn off the television and radio. Eliminate distractions. Listen to the beautiful sounds of silence instead. Open the windows and invite nature’s symphony indoors. Clean up clutter and keep the house spotlessly clean. Bring plants indoors and make the home an oasis of beauty and calm. All these actions attract positive energies and increase the flow of helpful prana throughout the home’s atmosphere, contributing to a feeling of peacefulness which is immediately noticeable to visitors who enter.
- Spend time in the sunshine and soak up its beneficial energies. Not only is it good for our physical health, but it also balances the atoms in an upset aura. Nervousness dissipates in the sunshine and is replaced by a feeling of calm that only nature can provide.
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs. They attract upsetting, unhealthy and negative energies. Consider a vegetarian diet. Much cruelty to animals occurs in order to perpetuate meat-based diets, and this significantly contributes to a lack of peacefulness, not only in our bodies, but in the planet’s atmosphere as well.
- Read uplifting literature, listen to beautiful music, and refuse to be drawn towards crass, chaotic or violent images, such as those which are shown in movies or on television shows. Start the day by reading an inspirational thought. Whenever something occurs which threatens to destroy our peacefulness, we can refer back to that uplifting image from the beginning of the day and bring ourselves back to a feeling of centredness.
PEACE WITH OTHERS
- Salute the divinity in others. There is no surer way to ‘keep the peace’ than by remembering that we all issue from the same source and harbour a spark of divinity within.
- Be the first to say ‘I’m sorry’. When family arguments arise, be the negotiator who tries to find an amicable solution which suits everyone. If all else fails, we can always say we’re sorry. The argument is probably not worth perpetuating anyway. Certainly, ‘winning’ an argument is not more important than winning the love of cherished family members.
- Be a good listener. Give family and friends our full attention. Then share. Share our thoughts, share our love, share our energy, share our stuff. Peace is a two-way street.
- Put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. It’s always easier to compromise when we try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. With enough will-power, creativity, hard work and cooperation, even the most difficult situation can usually be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
PEACE IN THE WIDER COMMUNITY
- We can use our personal talents, such as our love of art or gardening, to promote peace. We can ask others in the community to join us in planting a community peace garden. Here we can hold monthly gatherings to celebrate peace by working on the garden together, hosting a public peace ceremony, playing music, putting on skits that promote non-violence or reading our poetry.
- Remember the children. Raising peace-loving children is an important part of a secure future for everyone. We can talk about the importance of peace and non-violence to children through religious education classes, scouting events, or school functions. Advertising works, and we can certainly ‘advertise’ peace. We can write ‘Promote Peace!’ on our correspondence, the envelopes of monthly bill payments or our e-mails. We can wear t-shirts or badges with slogans promoting peace. We can join or promote local organisations that advocate a peaceful lifestyle. Better still, we can start our own local peace groups. It can be as simple as a few friends promising to gather regularly for coffee and discuss an issue related to non-violence.
- We can start peace groups at our local houses of worship to keep peace issues in the forefront of congregational life. The format can include a brief period of meditation for peace, a discussion on a related issue, and a brief comment period. Adding food and beautiful music at the end of the gathering is sure to promote success. The group might then consider hosting the same type of event for the entire congregation and/or the public, or sponsoring a speaker or panel discussion on pertinent peace topics.
Working to achieve global peace requires that we adjust our thinking and widen our horizons to include not just our immediate circle of family, friends and local community, but the whole world. The most important first step we must take is to educate ourselves, by keeping abreast of global affairs and being informed global citizens. This requires a tolerant, open-minded and accepting attitude towards countries and cultures other than our own. The most important trait of a successful worker for global peace is an intense and unselfish interest in everyone and everything outside our own little personal lives.
- We should take every opportunity to publicize peace initiatives. The International Day of Peace is celebrated every September 21 and provides an excellent opportunity to bring peace issues to the public’s attention. United Nations Day, October 24, is another alternative. Or we can make peace issues the focus of any recognized holiday, celebration or public event.
- We can join forces with one of the many organised, non-profit peace groups in existence. A recent internet search yielded more than a million entries on the topic, ‘peace groups’.
- We can learn about cultures other than our own and then pass that knowledge on to others by sharing a meal from another country, demonstrating the dance and music of another culture, or recommending a book written from the perspective of someone totally different from ourselves.
- VOTE! Whenever possible, we should exercise the power of our individual votes to elect candidates to public office who promote peace over war, sharing over hoarding, global human rights over selfish national interests.
- We can write and circulate among our fellow citizens petitions for global disarmament and a change from a war-based economy to one that serves human needs. Mailing the signed petitions to government leaders around the world sends a strong message that the majority of the world’s people want to live peacefully with each other and to use our limited global resources for constructive rather than destructive purposes.
- We should also keep abreast of current legislative bills that are due for action by our government officials. It is important to take time to write to our legislators expressing our concerns. Experts estimate that every letter received by legislators is assumed to represent the opinions of at least 25 other citizens.
- We can voice our support of all individual and local, national or international group efforts to bring peace to the planet. May Peace Prevail on Earth!
We can only touch briefly here on a few examples of how to put theosophical principles into practice to help make this a more peaceful world. We welcome readers’ comments on this article, questions, suggestions for projects and more.