We speak so much about love, or kindness, but I think there is a word that we seem to undervalue. A lot. And we certainly seem to not speak of it nearly enough in political debates, when we discuss social reforms and on a local and community level.
So what does peace mean?
To quote the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is a state of tranquility and quiet; a state free of disturbance, a state of security and order; on a warfare level, it is a state of mutual agreement between governments to end hostilities.
Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence from the British rule at the beginning of last century was an activist and staunch proponent of non-violent/peaceful protests. He left us a powerful legacy of transformation by choosing peaceful ways to solve conflicts and lead our lives.
When I think of peace, I think of this….
When we are at peace with ourselves, we are in harmony with our bodies, its wishes and needs. We honor our “no”, and we honor our “yes”. If we are at peace, we are able to feel gratitude for our lives in spite of the circumstances that seem to hinder our progress or growth.
If we practice peace, we are able to accept ourselves completely within the place in which we recognize that we are still a work in progress. We see our mistakes as lessons, the wrong choices as building blocks and us, on a path of never ending learning.
If we are at peace with our family, our spouse or significant other, we no longer strive to change them. We recognize that their journeys are different than ours and we are ok with that. We realize that we are temporary travelers, united for what will be but a brief moment, and every interaction is precious. Our relationships may be laden with grief and heartache, but still peaceful. We accept them for who they, and how they are. We are at peace with them.
When we choose peace in relationships, we choose building words. Those that pick each other up, that support, encourage and allow for free expression. We may not agree with our loved one, we might even argue but choosing peace as the determining factor in the relationship allows us to solve conflicts faster and easily. We accept and celebrate the differences in ideas, thoughts and behaviors, knowing that these differences cannot take away anything from our own just as someone cannot take away someone else’s beauty or health.
If we practice a peaceful attitude, then our day to day interactions are not rushed or hurried, but a celebration of the present moment. In spite of chaos, we choose to keep our internal world at peace. And we practice it daily in order to be prepared for the moments when life curves and bends dramatically.
When we have peace, we have faith. Faith that moves on unsolid ground, that is life giving and life sustaining. Faith that knows that we will be ok and all will be well.
When we have peace, we forgive. Any transgression is pardonable if we recognize it first in ourselves. We start by making peace with our past selves and their choices. Just as we choose to make peace with the people that wronged us. There is a liberating, uplifting quality to forgiveness that can stop the cycle of violence and hurt in its track, which in turn will foster healing and growth.
If we believe in peace with every fiber of our being then wars, no matter the reason, are no longer an option. All solutions and actions are focused on finding, preserving and enabling peace. If we value peace as the ultimate ground for life to flourish, no ideology and no economical, political or religious reasoning can justify it.
Because if we have peace, if we practice and cultivate it daily, we transform our context, our surroundings and ultimately, our lives.
In thinking of peace, I ask myself these questions:
- Why is peace so important? I will write down my reasons to remind me of the importance of choosing a peaceful life.
- What daily thoughts and words will express my state of internal peace?
- What can I listen to, read and watch that will support my state of peace? and what do I need to let go of that no longer resonates with a peaceful state?
- How can I practice peace in my daily interactions with other people, whether they are family, friends or strangers?
- What is the one thing I can do each day to bring more peace into the world?
Tell me your thoughts.
I’d like to know if peace is something that preoccupies you, if you find it important and what are some ways in which you too can cultivate it in your life.