Saturday, November 15, 2014

Imagine Peace!

Aspiring Peace Makers have an important and monumental task. The task of imagining Peace.  This seems so simple that we might overlook its potential power and just brush the notion aside.  But we must work diligently to imagine a tangible Peace.   Not Peace in some distant time or in some illusory utopia, but in the lands where we live, in the lands where we were born, in the homelands of our ancestors.  We must imagine that Peace as a here and now possibility, which we will achieve in our lifetimes, through Peaceful processes.

In our fantasies, we often find it fairly easy to imagine Peace by magically editing out those who oppose our Peace and Equality.  It is an easy thing, inside our own minds, to tap our magical shoes, rub our magical lanterns, wave our magical wands and, poof, the adversary, the oppressor is gone.  But to actually achieve Peace, we must be able to imagine a tangible Peace.  And for Peace to be tangible—it must include our adversaries—otherwise it will never exist outside of our fantasies.

To begin to imagine a tangible Peace, we must begin to imagine a time where we will be at Peace with our adversaries.  We must begin to imagine living with them in Peace as our neighbors, and as our partners in building healthy economies and healthy international communities.  This is, of course, a difficult task.  But unless we can imagine it, we will never get there from here.  The alternative to the difficult task of imagining a tangible Peace is for the cycle of violence and war to continue on indefinitely.  This alternative is really too abysmal and dire to embrace.  Imagine, instead, a tangible Peace. 

Peace must include respect.  Certainly, we cannot respect the actions of those that oppose Peace and Equality.  We can’t respect their actions.  But we can strive to respect the humanity that lies hidden, perhaps even from them, deep beneath those actions. We can strive to respect the humanity which has been subverted by a culture of violence into something ugly and loathsome.

Cultures of violence are created by profit seekers, by power seekers, by those ruled by greed.  Infants are born into these violent ideologies, youth are seduced by them, indoctrinating media and educational systems reinforce them, nationalism raises them to patriotic ideals.  We cannot and should not respect any of the forces or the tools used to create and sustain cultures of violence.   But it is possible to begin imagining the people subjected to these forces, as free people.  We can begin to imagine them being free of these forces.  We can begin to imagine their healing process.  We can begin to imagine our respect for that process.  We can begin to imagine our respect for their innate humanity at the point at which they are willing to work to reclaim it.  And we can begin to imagine our respect for their latent humanity, even as it lies dormant under their fear and their programming.

Perhaps today, we can’t get all the way there from where we are right now.  But perhaps we can at least think about imagining it.  And from there, perhaps we can begin to imagine it, halfheartedly, and then, eventually, in as tangible a way as possible.  We can then let what we learn by these imaginary processes begin to inform our thoughts and our words and our typing and writing.  

Respect.  It is part of the language of Peace.  Many of us have been taught disrespect since the moment we were born, if not before.  However, we can change.  If we want change in the world, it is up to us to be that change.  Personally.  Each of us.  We certainly can’t expect change of others or change in the world, if we are not willing to change ourselves.  In our work towards that change, we can start, perhaps, by imagining Peace.  A tangible Peace.  A Peace we shall surely reach.


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1 comment:

  1. Angels, angels everywhere . . . .

    Today, in the cold and the dark, the bus driver who was picking up passengers from Astoria to bring them home to Pacific County got in an argument with the person in line in front of me to get on the bus. He told her no, she had to wait, that he would be back. And he was being unpleasant and unreasonable. The bus was far from full and she wanted to get on where it was warm with her son. He yelled at her. Then he asked me if I was going to a certain destination, I said yes, and he put up his hand and said no, you have to wait, I will be back, and he took off.

    Immediately, the first woman said that he was wrong, that the bus was now going where I needed to go, and that he should have let me on. She was very insistent. I called the bus company immediately, I could still see the bus, and had to argue with dispatch, and my angel had to get on the phone as a witness as to what he had done. They let that bus go quite a ways before he turned it back around to pick us up, and it turned out that he had left two other people as well.

    But the fact that I got home at all tonight, and that I didn't wait for the bus to come back and take me to a strange town where I don't know anyone, was because someone noticed an injustice, spoke up about it, and took the steps necessary to make it right.

    It seems to me, that these sorts of small and large acts of advocacy--that we all could and should make--elevate us, in moments, in to the realm of angels. And if we all acted thus, on small and large acts of injustice, if we all advocated for what is right for others, even when it does not have any bearing on us, we could elevate our existence into the realm of heaven on earth.

    I thanked her profusely, and I told her that today she was my angel. Without her, who knows what would have become of me.

    And now I have to confess something. I was at the transit center in Astoria for about 45 minutes before the bus came. And in that time, this woman, who turned out to be my angel, had previously made such a bad impression on me that I removed myself from her company, twice. I removed myself so that I did not engage with what I perceived as her negative behavior--in a negative way.

    Imagine, now, where I might be if I didn't have the self restraint to remove myself from her presence when she was disturbing my peace.

    Really, we never know who is going to turn out to be an angel . . . An angel, who might just save our lives, or at least save us from a cold dark night in a strange place . . . .

    This was an important reminder to me, of something I already know, about Peace Making and respect. And it really proves, that even when we don't feel respect, it may be very important for us to act with the highest level of respect that we can extract from ourselves in any given moment. Really, it just might save our lives . . .