Friday, May 05, 2006
A Peace Worth Working For.
I write a lot. Especially when I feel passionate about something.
I was recently looking through my email 'saved' folder, checking out which emails I have kept over the last few years, and a few of them sparked my interest from february of '04.
The War in Iraq was almost a full year old, and I was talking to a friend via email about how we personally addresss the violence of the world. Her mom survived the holocaust, and 'Mom' took issue with my statements about the way of Non-Violence as a lifelong practice.
I said that it was important to listen to 'the enemy' with a compassionate and open mind.
Here's what she wrote back-- my response is below:
> don't want to get into this, but playing devil's advocate.(i'm turning into > a real hawk lol) > Scott, you leave out greed and need to control and power seeking. > in any case, violence may beget violence, but "first you gotta attract the > guy's attention" before you can listen with compassion, or you won't be > around to listen with or without compassion. > jj
Mom raises an interesting point. I sat there thinking about that one for awhile. The most honest and jaw-dropping, almost inconcieveable way to 'Get the guy's attention' is to love him.
I know, I know. I'm thinking it, too... Naive. Incredibly impractical. Delusional. Crazy. No way.
...but that's the BEST way. Notice how I didn't say 'The easiest,' the 'quickest'-- We all saw what kind of attention 9/11 got. What kind of attention 'Shock & Awe' got. What kind of attention Palestinian Suicide Bombings and Israeli Airstrikes get.
The BEST way is to love your enemy-- for then he ceases to be your enemy!!! Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, MLK-- They put this idea into practice... And if I'm not mistaken, all four of those guys got some things accomplished, no?? They were flesh & blood human beings!!!! Just like you & me!!!
The BEST way to create peace is to love your enemy. And-- Not to simply to pay lip-service to this idea of Love, but to really, truly, deeply see in your heart of hearts, that you and he are inextricably woven into the same tapestry.
This is not easy.
I sure as heck couldn't say this-- That I LOVE everyone I come into contact with-- Or that I can say "I Love Osama." Or "I love Saddam." That's crazy even to me!! Hell, I have enough trouble getting past the the idea of being able to say 'I don't hate the Yankees!!!'....The guy taking his sweet-ass time at the McDonald's drive-thru pisses me off... Because I'm not rooted in the moment. I'm not seeing, listening, breathing-- I'm full of fear, anger, frustration about the past & the future. I'm somewhere else-- Deep inside my own brain. I cannot see clearly.
Being non-violent is not passive. It is not inactive. To find peace, I have heard, I must first work every day to cultivate the conditions for peace to exist within me. No one can say--
"Good morning!! I'm Non-Violent!!! I have compassion!! I understand!!! I get it!! I Think I'll have a soy-chai latte!!!"
If they could, I'd be following them around all day.
And have a soy-chai latte, too. I deserve it...
But I am open-- I think-- I am praying for the willingness to start on the long, tough, uncertain path-- In order to maybe, possibly, someday-- create the right conditions within me for that idea to really take root & blossom in a way that is genuine. That would be freaking awesome.
That is worth working towards.
And I can only work on me. I cannot be responsible for what others do or say or believe-- Nor should I be-- But I can listen to them, I can try to be attentive and mindful and present and all of that really simple-yet-near-impossible type stuff.... And I can send emails to everyone I know.... And talk about peace...And hopefully I will touch someone else. And then maybe the seed grows and the whole thing is set in motion again. Maybe... and then, maybe not.
If we want peace, true peace, we must lay the groundwork-- Set the stage-- For the possibility of peace. We must create the conditions for it to exist. Millions of people are creating these conditions already right now-- you and I are doing that in our minds, hearts & souls. Right now,we are tapping & reinforcing something that is already there. We are creating the seeds of true peace RIGHT NOW as I write this & you read it.
As my character in 'Fifth of July' says: "Isn't that far out??"
Jackie, We have possibility all over us!!!
(Humor goes a long way to getting the job done, too!!!)
Anyhow, tell Mom here's a great way to 'get the guy's attention.' On the subject of altering institutional government to begin the slow process of changing our view of conflict resolution-- Here is the best idea I've ever heard, from Congressman Dennis Kucinich. It involves shifting our perspective as a nation from 'War as the solution to everything', to the root causes of violence, and, even more beneficial, it can instill peace as a workable, easily practiced concept in our daily lives.
PEACE & JUSTICE,
"As we stand on the threshold of a new millennium, it is time to free ourselves, to jettison our illusions and fears and transform age-old challenges with new thinking. We can conceive of peace as not simply the absence of violence but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of human awareness, of respect, trust, and integrity. Of peace, wherein we all may tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform consciousness and conditions that impel or compel violence at a personal, group, or national level toward creating understanding, compassion, and love. We can bring forth new understandings where peace, not war, becomes inevitable. Can we move from wars to end all wars to peace to end all war? Citizens across the United States are now uniting in a great cause to establish a Department of Peace, seeking nothing less than the transformation of our society, to make non-violence an organizing principle, to make war archaic through creating a paradigm shift in our culture for human development for economic and political justice and for violence control. Its work in violence control will be to support disarmament, treaties, peaceful coexistence and peaceful consensus building. Its focus on economic and political justice will examine and enhance resource distribution, human and economic rights and strengthen democratic values. Domestically, the Department of Peace would address violence in the home, spousal abuse, child abuse, gangs, police-community relations conflicts and work with individuals and groups to achieve changes in attitudes that examine the mythologies of cherished world views, such as 'violence is inevitable' or 'war is inevitable'. Thus it will help with the discovery of new selves and new paths toward peaceful consensus. The Department of Peace will also address human development and the unique concerns of women and children. It will envision and seek to implement plans for peace education, not simply as a course of study, but as a template for all pursuits of knowledge within formal educational settings. Violence is not inevitable. War is not inevitable. Nonviolence and peace are inevitable. We can make of this world a gift of peace which will confirm the presence of universal spirit in our lives. We can send into the future the gift which will protect our children from fear, from harm, from destruction. '
Congressman Kucinich is the 2003 recipient of the International Gandhi Peace Prize. Former recipients include Eleanor Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez, A.J. Muste, Dr. Linus Pauling, Dorothy Day, Sen. Wayne Morse and Marian Wright Edelman. See website: http://www.pepeace.org/tmpl/gandhi.html