Do You Want Real Peace?
Memorial Day Weekend has brought a plethora of remembrances to my Facebook page. Most are patriotic and call upon us to express gratitude for those who have fallen in the line of duty. I appreciate this sentiment but question whether it goes far enough.
We are told that all of the fallen have died to “preserve our freedom” even as our freedoms are shrinking by the day, not at the hand of conquerors but by the hand of our own in the name of security.
And there are those that contend that the greatest threat to our freedom is the mounting national debt fueled almost entirely by our expenditures on everlasting war and the national security state.
We should also recognize that those far off lands, where we have spent the lives of 8000 of our service people and visited permanent injury upon 10 times that many, have lost hundreds of thousands of their own, mostly civilians, in the conflicts. The thirst for military adventurism that grips the world rarely serves the people of the world very well, while filling the bank accounts of those who profit from it.
I think we would do a far greater service in memorializing those we have lost by focusing on what we must do to stop adding to their numbers. In the words of Indian Statesman Jawaharlal Nehru:
Or Carlos Santana:
“Peace has never come from dropping bombs. Real Peace comes from enlightenment and educating people to behave more in a divine manner.”
The quest for peace must develop on both an individual and a collective level. And I use the word collective deliberately to emphasize that this is an issue that transcends nationalism.
On an individual level, the quest for peace can take many forms but ultimately it is a quest of the heart and the spirit. It is a quest routed in desire and intention and starts with the choices we make about small things we encounter in every day life. Shop local, eat better, plant a garden, sing and dance often and offer gratitude at every opportunity. Listen to understand and not to formulate a reply and above all know that sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right.
During the Viet Nam war an activist was asked to participate in a demonstration against the war. She refused but offered to participate when they were ready to demonstrate for peace.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Our actions define us and in turn define the world we desire. We can do better. We must do better.