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Making peace

Boulder Creek Peace Vigil
source http://jeremysantacruz.livejournal.com/

Making peace is not just a matter of opposing war, though that is certainly an important step. It’s not only standing up to tyranny, though that too may be necessary. It is the creative application of Love to every part of our lives.

Peace must be made fresh every day. It starts in our own hearts, and spreads out from there to those around us, to our community, to our country, to the whole world. It is the great blessing that every one of us can give.

We don’t have to wait for our political “leaders” to support peace. They may be the very last to do so. That is their problem; it is not ours. It is up to us, to everyone on this planet who wants to see a better world, to lead the way.

Some Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” That’s a very powerful question, and He answered it Himself, with three words: “Love one another.” This Love is more than a feeling, or a distant goal; it is compassion in action in your everyday life.

Each moment of our lives is new and precious. We will not pass this way again. We cannot change the past, and it’s pointless to blame ourselves for missed chances. But we can choose right now to do the best we can to create Peace and Love as we go on, and let the old patterns that do not fit our new resolve fall by the wayside.

This takes courage. The alternative to Love is not hate; it is Fear. When people live in fear, they feel justified in doing appalling things to one another. When they think someone else is out to kill them, they try to kill the other first. And this sickness spreads. We’ve seen it clearly in the Mideast, but it is really world-wide. It infects every corner of our society.

Fear is very powerful. When we are afraid, we often strike out at the “cause” in the outer world. But all that does, all it ever can do, is create even more fear. The true source of our fear lies within us, and that is where we must treat this grim disease. We have only one cure. Love is the only power that can overcome fear. And when it does, it is called Courage.

How can we cultivate courage? It is like growing a tree; we plant the seed, then we water it every day. The seed is our intention, our choice to do our best to bring Love to every action of our day, to be conscious of Spirit in our lives. We water it with our acts, each time we smile at a stranger, hug a child, give aid to an elder. Each time we follow our hearts. And especially, each time we face, and face down, our fears.

Take a practical example. You are walking down the street, and see a homeless person sitting with a little sign, a sadly common sight these days. Many people pointedly look the other way, and pretend “nobody” is there. If the person on the curb says something to them, like “Spare change?”, they may become angry at the “intrusion” into their lives. This is fear in action. We all know that in today’s job market, in this uncertain economy, nobody is secure. We all have friends who were laid off, lost their homes, perhaps their marriages, even their lives. The homeless are a living reminder to the housed of what could be their own fate. And so many of us try to distance themselves from this message. Their fear leads them into denial, into anger at the messenger, into demands that the police remove this non-person so that they can go on pretending that this could never happen to them.

It’s very obvious (or should be) that this fear, this denial, this anger are not going to make this situation any better. Consider how the homeless person feels. Already rejected by a heartless economic system, denied the fundamental human right of shelter and likely of food, he (or she) is being told that they matter less than dirt. That they are truly worthless and unwanted. This reinforces their own fears, and so we have a downward spiral into spiritual darkness. Everyone loses.

Now consider another possibility. What happens if you stop a moment and give what you can? You can’t afford it? Get real! Just the fifty cents you pay for a newspaper would gladden a heart; the price of a cup of coffee would make their whole day. And yours too. Choosing compassion over denial, love over anger, builds up your own courage. Even if you are stony broke yourself, you can always give a smile, a kind word, some acknowledgment that the person on the curb is really another human being, not just a fearful reminder of hard times.

Life is full of opportunities to choose Love over Fear. When we begin to take them whenever we come to them, we begin to change our lives. The Light comes into us, because we have opened the door. The door of our heart. And that light fills every part of our being. If we are sick, it will heal us. If we are poor, it will bring us what we need to go on. What we give to others, we really give to ourselves, for it returns to us manyfold. This is the most basic of all spiritual truths, found in all religions, in every ethical system. It is the one sure path we can take to higher ground.

When we practice compassion, when we look one another in the eye and smile, we are making Peace. What we create on an individual level spreads, another spiritual law. The peace that we make in our own hearts, the peace we make on Main Street, grows in an upward spiral into the Light. It has the power to change our city, our county, our state, our country, our whole world.

Our time here is short. We cannot postpone making peace to a better time, because if we do not start making it soon, we may not have any more time. Look around you. Do you see a world you can feel good about passing on to your children? Of course not. It’s a bloody mess, and the only way out is to apply Love in action, to start where you are, right now, this minute, to make the Peace that can save us all from the sorry fate awaiting those who live in Fear. Have courage, and act with compassion. When we follow our hearts, we are making Peace.


Copyright © 2003 Boulder Creek Peace Vigil. Please redistribute this widely. Permission is granted to reproduce in all media provided the text is unaltered, including this notice.