You are right to pray for peace, peace is certainly needed in the world, but how can that help when you still fight with your bosses, spouses, children, neighbors and enemies? If you are serious, really serious about peace on the earth, then you must be peace and be peaceful at all times. Every step of your life must be walked tranquilly. It is not easy, but it is the only effective way of obtaining peace for yourself and for the earth.
In the world there are many conflicts, for example between the Israelis and the Palestinians, in the former state of Yugoslavia, or in many parts of Africa, in which there have been many years or even centuries of animosity between opposing sides. Each says that it wants peace, but often each group does things designed to provoke the other and continue the fight. Each enters into negotiations for peace established by the United States or other countries, but in the end they subvert the process, because they are not really interested in peace. It is not important that many persons across the world are praying for peace say between the Israelis and Palestinians, it is not possible until both sides stop the hostilities between them. The conflict in Northern Ireland has recently ended as both sides gave up their arms, but for thirty years it did not appear that peace was possible.
Notice how often the defenders of peace in our country fight against the people who recommend war. There is no way to achieve peace through fighting. Look at the means the “peace-lovers” use to see what the outcome will be. If there is fighting, the outcome will be war with the advocates of war, no matter what they say their intentions are; if the means are peaceful, they cannot create a war between the two sides. To be serene produces peace; to be belligerent produces war.
How can you realize peace in your life? First, have gratitude in your heart for all the things and people in your life. Second, understand that the other person, stranger or no, family or friend, wants the same things that you do. Third, learn how to manage your emotions, in particular anger and fear. These two emotions will control you until you can distance yourself from them. Until you manage your emotions, your anger or fear will upset you, bursting out and possibly hurting someone emotionally or physically, sometimes your spouse or children. What damage fear and anger cause!
The emotions often come from the childhood and must be put in perspective. Each person must become an adult through resolving the root of anger and fear, taking responsibility for his actions and not projecting blame on another. In another essay, “You are not your thoughts or feelings,” I have written about how to distance yourself you’re your feelings. When you are able to distance yourself from your feelings, you can act with more understanding and with less blind passion, your actions are more considered and less likely to evoke problems with others.
Peace is not just the absence of war or fighting. Peace has a quality of presence, a richness, a fullness which generates more peace. There are no emotional distractions that can disturb the peace, because the person has decided that he will not react to them. If a thought or an emotion interrupts her peace, she lets it go and returns to the peaceful state. He can do this because he has decided to take responsibility for his state of mind, not blaming anyone else for his state of being. When a person first starts to be peaceful and not react out of anger, there is a vacuum created in relationships where the other is waiting for the anger to emerge. When it doesn’t, the other almost can’t believe it; but when it still doesn’t emerge, then the other makes a new response, not the habitual one he has always responded to anger with.
This also works with groups and nations. In 1993 when Britain and The Republic of Ireland invited the Provisional IRA to take part in the negotiations about the future of Northern Ireland if they agreed to a permanent cease-fire and an end to the use of violence, there was nothing but mistrust on both sides. There were setbacks including a brief return to hostilities, but in 1998 all parties signed an agreement establishing the Northern Ireland Assembly and ending British rule.1) That led to peace.
Peace in one person spreads to others and is very attractive to them. Peace is contagious, one contact with a person of peace is enough to make another want to have peace in his own life: one person and another, another and another do the same, until many persons are trying to bring peace in their lives. As one brings about peace in his life, his prayers have more power and effectiveness, because he is established in peace and radiating it out to others. Because of this, to be peace, bring it into your life, then pray that peace reign on earth. It is more effective than prayer alone. Think of what will occur when many persons have decided to be peace. How that will spread!