Sunday, December 25, 2005

Peace on Earth...Today

Two of the enduring themes throughout the traditional Christmas season are 1) Peace on Earth and 2) Goodwill toward all. It'’s truly unfortunate that, as we look around the world today, human society seems to be in short supply of both. To be certain, neither aim is completely missing, but, owing to an overall analysis, we all are falling miserably short of the desired targets.

The most surprising aspect of our failure is that success is within our own power. It's not that we CAN'T live peaceably and respectfully, but that we choose not to. We, as individuals and as nations, have chosen to wage war and to treat others in negative and destructive ways.

For example, today each of us could decide that there will be no war, now or in the future. If called upon to fight by our political leaders, we can simply refuse. Really, if a bunch of leaders throughout the world decided to have a war and no one signed up to fight it, the war would never take place.

I know that many people will argue that there are bad people in the world (i.e., criminals, sexual predators, terrorists) and that to refuse to wage war would then open up the planet to domination by such people.

My response is that there'’s a chasm of difference between aggressively waging war and defending one's family or country against the aggression of others. Malcolm X made this point as does Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching. It'’s one thing to defend one'’s self to defuse an attack (redirecting the force of the attacker to neutralize him) and quite another to escalate the violence into an ongoing conflict.

So, one could accurately support genuine defense as a method for dealing with physical aggression. In time, as more and more aggressors found that their own violent power was turned back onto itself, aggression itself would die away and we would be that much closer to the ideal of peace on earth.

Of course, there is a second method for dealing with aggression, one chosen by Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When each was attacked by the people of their day, each chose to turn the other cheek. Each chose an act of ultimate bravery --– looking injury and death square in the face and consciously choosing not to strike back.

These three figures (and countless others) intuitively understood that aggression cannot defeat a peaceful spirit. A person's freedom can be withheld. Their name can be vilified. They can be mocked and spit upon. Their bodies can be desecrated and destroyed. But none of these things is stronger than the spirit of love, goodwill and peace.

Today we each have a choice to make. It'’s a personal choice wholly independent of anyone or anything else. We can decide that we will be brokers of peace. Yes, we can each decide that in OUR individual worlds there WILL be peace on earth and goodwill toward all.

1 comment:

  1. If I see a difference, I am under the influence of Judeo-Christan values; if I do not see a difference, I am doused in the Tao?

    a blog reason koan, nice


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