Choosing Peace

We all have a responsibility to experience peace on an increasingly regular basis.  Emotional turmoil, especially that which is rooted in destructive feelings such as fear, anxiety, anger, or hatred, is at the basis of all conflict in the world.  These negative emotional and psychological tendencies color our perspective on the world in dark ways:  we see enemies rather than other human beings.  We see threat, rather than life situations that could instead be perceived as inspiring challenges.

Moreover, whatever our internal experiences, they are never without effect on the outer world.  No human being is separate from the rest of humanity, and our state of mind has an effect, for good or ill, on the people around us.  Regardless of whether we choose our mental emotional landscape consciously and positively or unconsciously and destructively, it has an impact on others, and these thoughts and feelings, positive or negative, tend to influence more of the same, whatever that may be.

The one thing we always have complete freedom to choose is our state of mind.  We may have little or no control over the outside circumstances of our lives, but we always have the ability to choose how we perceive and respond to those circumstances.

And as our thoughts and feelings influence others, so too do theirs have an effect on the people around them as well, so that our choices spread out in a subtle but significant chain reaction that ultimately touches everyone everywhere in some way.  Like the butterfly whose wings move the air, which in turn effects the air around that, and around that, finally effecting in some unknown way even the weather patterns in distant locations of the world, so too do we touch the world with our influence.

In that sense, we all have responsibility for the state of world affairs.  Are we choosing peace, compassion, empathy, tolerance, acceptance, understanding, or are we choosing more destructively?  We will all have an influence, the only question is, what will it be?

On a personal level, these inner perspectives also tend to draw us into outer situations and circumstances that most closely reflect the inner landscape.  Self-fulfilling prophecies are a natural fact of life, and more often than not, we tend to get what we expect, in one way or another.  Dire expectations tend to attract more unpleasant results.

So too it is on the collective level.  The emotional psychological state of groups of people, in a family, a city, a nation, or the world, and their expectations, create the outer events in the world.  Anyone who works on Wall Street can tell you just how true this is.  The market is most often driven not by facts, but by collective beliefs and expectations.

It all begins with each of us and our moment to moment choices of how to be.  Are we choosing peace in this moment?  Or turmoil?  When tempted with the possibility of reacting with fear, anger, anxiety, resentment, or hostility, we can instead choose peace.  We can choose compassion.  We can choose acceptance and tolerance and equanimity.

We are responsible for these choices, whether we are aware of it or not.

Choose wisely today.

Love Trumps Hate

Love Trumps Hate

As was reported in the Huntington Post, on July 31, following the murder of a Catholic priest by two French teens claiming allegiance to ISIS, Muslims throughout France and Italy attended Catholic Mass in a powerful display of unity.  Outside the church where the priest was killed, Muslims held a banner saying, “Love for all. Hate for none.”

I find it interesting and a bit disturbing that the acts of violence are far more widely and prominently reported in the media than these impressive demonstrations of solidarity.  To my mind, the real story of our times is not the hatred and violence, but the ever-increasing displays of unity and compassion.  But you’d never know it from the so-called news reported in the mainstream media.

It’s important that we pay attention to these unifying acts of solidarity, because wherever we place our focus of attention is what gets reinforced.  This is as true on the group and international level as it is on the personal level.

If we want more peace, unity, tolerance, and cooperation in the world, we must place our attention on these attributes consistently and regularly, both in our own personal lives, as well as in the world arena.  We can help reinforce these positive trends by thinking, emoting, and acting accordingly.  Hate and fear never get abolished with more hate and fear.  They lose their power when we place our energy and our attention elsewhere, on more loving, compassionate, and peaceful ways of thinking and being.

As Mahatma Ghandi said, we need to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Whenever some loud shouting voice in the media tries to temp you to brand others as evil, remember that the violence in the world isn’t happening because some human beings are inherently evil.  It happens because some human beings are in deep pain and confused (and therefore easily manipulated into acting destructively) about how to create real change in the world.

We must understand that we don’t defeat violence and terrorism by hating those who commit them, but by instead standing firm with conviction in the power of love, understanding, and tolerance.  It’s not just some idealistic platitude:  in practical, pragmatic, down-t0-earth terms, Love truly does Trump Hate!