nonviolence

International Day of Peace

Peace sign

Image via Wikipedia

Today is the UN’s International Day of Peace. However, despite this thought of goodwill, war and violence raged on today in many countries around the world. What can we do to change this? How can we move towards more positive peace?

To honor this day, I thought I would leave you with some famous peace quotes.

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime” – Ernest Hemingway

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“A smile is the beginning of peace.” – Mother Teresa

“The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it” -George Orwell

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” – Jimi Hendrix

“The poor long for riches, the rich long for heaven, but the wise long for a state of tranquility.” -Swami Rama

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” – Abraham Lincoln

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace, one must believe it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it, one must for it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.”

“The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.” – Peace Pilgrim

“Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves.” – William Hazlett

“It you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

“One of the most persistent ambiguities that we face is that everybody talks about peace as a goal. However, it does not take sharpest-eyed sophistication to discern that while everbody talks about peace, peace has become practically nobodys’ business among the power-wielders. Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace.” -Martin Luther King,Jr.

“Peace be with you.” – The Bible: Genesis XLIII. 23

“The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into this world and taught us: ‘That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God’s creatures. Belief in God is to love one’s fellow men.'” –Abdul Ghaffar Khan

“All who affirm the use of violence admit it is only a means to achieve justice and peace. But peace and justice are nonviolence…the final end of history. Those who abandon nonviolence have no sense of history. Rathy they are bypassing history, freezing history, betraying history.” André Trocmé

“Generally speaking, the first nonviolent act is not fasting, but dialogue. The other side, the adversary, is recognized as a person, he is taken out of his anonymity and exists in his own right, for what he really is, a person. To engage someone in dialogue is to recognize him, have faith in him. At every step in the nonviolent struggle, at every level we try tirelessly to establish a dialogue, or reestablish it if it has broken down. When I say ‘the other side,’ that could be a group of persons or a government.” -Hildegard Goos-Mayr

“One cannot simultaneously prepare for war and create peace.”

“We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large and small….And for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors…have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.” –Preamble, Charter of the United Nations.

My plan to peace

I often sit, thinking of a paradise that only exists in my mind. perhaps it’s the thought of the afterlife, or maybe it’s the thought of hope. but i think of how beautiful the world is. or can be. how everywhere i look around i see art. far surpasing any canvas or show.

Belinda Carlisle sang it best, cause “ooh heaven is a place on earth”. .. just close your eyes and imagine the beauty of the world that exists.  what beautiful skies, and mountains, and prairies, and jungles, and deserts, and plains… the world is amazing. life could be amazing… not in my life time. but i hope that at some point we will change. my study of human behaviour in anthropology has taught me that humans have changed in the past– and are constantly changing and adapting to their environments. 

this does not have to mean there is no God, or Allah, or Yaweh, or Buddha, or Shiva… it frustrates me when people can’t see how beautifully evolution and religion go together. i never understood why people couldn’t see them as one beautiful theory.  i try to explain it- the best that i can. but maybe it only makes sense within my mind. it only shows how amazing and complex life is. how precious life is. who’s to say the big bang couldn’t be the moment God created the world. And perhaps– the six days that God made the world were six long days. that during this time God created different species and made them grow–change; trying to get the world right before God made humanity. people used to live for hundreds of years, so why couldn’t days be longer? clearly all the mysteries of the divine could not be written in one single book. so you have to accept some of it as abbreviated.

i’m not religious. i never have been. i think that all the religions i have read about made good rules to live your life by, but i can’t see how they haven’t been corrupted by humanity over time (no offense meant to anyone who strongly believes in literal translations, this is merely my personal opinion). i often think that we have misinterpreted some of the meanings. i think that heaven and hell exist on earth. we have been given a paradise to live on, we just have to learn to work together to make it a heaven. and if we don’t– it will be hell.

i think all the religions are good messages to us and help to teach us the history of the world. these documents and teachings, whether you believe them or not, are part of the world history. they have influenced massive amounts of people and touched their lives and made them feel whole (or so i imagine). these documents have started wars and inspired leaders. so respect them for that- if nothing else.

human beings have the capacity to change. if you look to the differences between cultures, you begin to realise that the things we take as innate to all humanity, are not. the way we raise our children, the way we treat our old. all the things we take for granted. these differences are not “good” or “bad”, just different.

Some cultural traits rub certain other cultures in wrong ways. perhaps this is because they have a different ecological background and so have had to adapt to the world differently. what’s normal in one society, is abnormal in others. for example, certain cultures have larger needs for personal space when talking to others. in north american culture, we like a lot of space. we feel uncomfortable by the “close-talkers”. but in some societies, a foot of space is plenty in conversation. any farther and they would feel you didn’t like them for some reason. there are tons of non-verbal communication that are personally unknown, culturally relevant and totally confusing. it can spark intense emotions in us and we don’t know why. it just feels wrong.

we are experiencing a massive cultural moment in humanity. for the first time in history we have the capacity to reach the world. we have the capacity to talk and view those in real world time from thousands of miles away.

we can share ideas, and concepts– and learn to work together. or we can keep secrets and make war, and live in fear. there is no need for us to live in fear.

if structural violence is all around us (in the form of corrupt, inequitable or unjust governments), we teach our children that the system is unfair. if the structures we rely on begin acting in fair and humane ways, those living under them will begin to trust the system. they will begin to feel safer from violence.  inequity and violence leads to more violence. the cycle goes on. the longer we allow it to remain– the longer we will go on ignoring the past. and we will remain in violence. we cannot let this go on.

the international government must restructure itself to be more equitable. it must begin to enforce crimes when they happen, and ensure that the well-being of humanity and the planet is respected. national governments must work together. they must begin to scruitinize, and enforce equitable policies. and those that violate- MUST be sanctioned.  we must stop fueling wars and create equitable governments!

transparency is the key to our future. we must remain open to scruitiny and change. if we funneled the resources we are currently using for war towards conflict transformation, towards creating more equitable structures, structures that ensure that human rights are respected; we could possibly find peace. conflict transformation strategies have proven succesful in many cases. why are we not spending more money and effort on these?

non-violent strategies have made many changes in our history. just look to Gandhi or King or the women’s suffrage movements. humans have changed history with non-violence.

have we learned nothing from the past? after WWI, they said “never again”. after WWII, they said “never again or the world will end”. after the Cold War, we said, “never again or the world will end”. and here we are, promoting war. spending money on war. spending efforts on war. clearly, some never learned the lesson.

–RS


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