What Peace is Not
Each one of us has thought about peace…some of us have experienced it…and then have longed for it to return…some of us have never felt at peace. Today we consider peace…what it is, what it is not.
Martin Luther King said that “true peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
And it is imperative that each one of us see peace as a call to action.
The author Virginia Wolf has a famous quote “you cannot find peace by avoiding life”. Peace is not hiding. Peace require that we be mindful of our actions, words, and thoughts while participating in life. John F. Kennedy said that “peace is a daily, weekly, a monthly process gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”
It is this mindful living that Jesus called us to embrace…a Chinese philosopher said “every day we do things, we ARE things that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our life, our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive.”
I find that so hopeful! Barack Obama wrote “I believe our sorrow can make us a better country. I believe our righteous anger can be transformed into more justice, more peace.” Isn’t it interesting that the word justice is often married to peace?
Another word that weaves into the fabric of peace is love. Jimi Hendrix said “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
A quote that I have always treasured is this “Love is the purest form of a soul at peace”. It is no surprise then when we are feeling unrest, anxiety, fear, we are unable to experience peace and it is in those moments when we find ourselves more critical, critical of ourselves, of others…unable to love.
Desmond Tutu encouraged us with these words “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”. Think of it! Overwhelming the world with our combined “bits of good”!
So..What peace is not???
It is not passive, it is not withdrawing or avoiding life. It requires mindful work. We must pay attention to our thoughts, the words that come out of our mouths...we must look with honest, kind eyes at what we are doing to create peace. Are we helping to create justice? Are we showing unconditional love? If we change our internal narrative it will change how we speak to one another and effect what we do in this world.
Peace is not anxiety, or fear – we must lean into love when we are accompanied by feelings of despair. We must have faith that by changing your thoughts…we are moving toward peace.
I want to close with a quote from Bo Lozoff that has become a part of my own personal philosophy:
“The great teachings unanimously emphasize that all peace, wisdom, and joy in the universe are already within us: we don’t have to gain, develop, or attain them. We’re like a child standing in a beautiful park with her eyes shut tight. We don’t need to imagine trees, flowers, deer, birds, and sky. We merely need to open our eyes and realize what is already here, who we really are and quit pretending we are small or unholy.”
So my friends…we are enough…we are abundantly able to be at peace…to become peacemakers, justice seekers, unconditional lovers. Let us embrace the holy in ourselves and agree to see the holy in the world around us.