Is peace possible? Across the world people are observing International Day of Peace on September 21. We participate in polishing the world by cultivating and practicing peace in our lives. The trinity of reconciling peace – peace within, peace among and peace between – is possible.
Peace Within. We’re each made in the imagination of the Holy. Each of us reflects something of the brilliance and magnificence that causes us to be loved for our existence. If that is true for us, it is true for each person.
The reality of the human story is that each of us has something that haunts us, keeping us from the fullness of who we are made to be. Perhaps shame about a relationship, a sense of failure about something, a belief that you’re not good enough, or that something you imagine about you makes you less loveable. Reconciling peace invites us to be reconciled with our own self.
The Buddhist notion of “happiness for all people” is about cultivating an awareness of wanting the best for another. This happiness for all is a foundational approach to the trinity of peace. For many of us, happiness for others is easier to focus on than happiness for ourselves. Repairing the rift in our own lives invites peace within to be discovered and practiced.
Peace Among. It’s never just about us. Reconciling peace in our relationships invites awareness of how we encounter and engage with others. No matter how frustrating or obstinate your spouse or partner is, no matter how willful your child, how insulting your neighbor is, your own ease and comfort at being loved for your existence makes way for compassion towards others.
Peace is not the absence of war. In the Hebrew tradition peace is about the well-being of all. It is a social construct. It is about relationships among people and how they are structured. It is a reconciling peace among people.
The peacemakers whom Christ called blessed are blessed because they work for spiritual, material and social relationships which remove conflict and promote the well-being of all. It is about tending to every aspect of life. We can’t know peace when people are a distraction or when we bang doors, walk away from others or raise our voices to drown others out. Peace among is about a mindful way of life in which the well being of those in our orbit is valued.
Peace Between. Peace within and among invites a way of being which celebrates our oneness with others. This oneness is an invitation to live, not curved in on ourselves, but to live with unclenched hands used for polishing the world.
The Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam is about repairing the world. In our personal practices active listening or compassionate listening is a tool connecting us with others. It is a cultivated practice of being fully present. To listen to and honor the stories of others revealing different perspectives of a particular reality creates a bridge between people. Across that bridge we begin to imagine life in the shoes of another. In the process we engage in being repairers of the world.
When I listen in compassionate or attentive silence to the stories of others I become present to them. In the process we re-shape how we think about and experience each other. As our empathy and oneness takes on a flesh and bones reality we work to heal the divides that exist in order to seek peace and the well-being of all.
Rumi once said, “Out beyond the ideas of right doing and wrongdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” The International Day of Peace is a call to re-commit ourselves to peace making within, between and among people. Every time we re-orient and ground our lives in peace we participate in polishing the world. What we do matters.
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See the Charter for Compassion website for resources
Listen to Desmond Tutu and Robert V Taylor in conversation about peace on Unity FM radio