It doesn’t come as a surprise to say that the world at the moment is embroiled in a tremendous amount of discord. We’ve seen several particularly difficult events happen over the last year. After every event, in emails, posts, and conversations, we ask how this could have happened. How could we live in a world with such violence?
So let’s talk about making peace.
Something we spend a lot of time and focus on is the topic of discord itself. Each time a political candidate/celebrity/person makes what we perceive to be an aggressive or divisive statement we copy it, forward it, bring it up in conversation at work, and bring it to our dinner tables. Each of these elicits responses from the people we sent it to and discuss it with, and they then continue to stir the pot with their own negative comments (which often then re-engages the original messenger with more vitriol). They also then copy the same post, forward it, bring it up in conversation at their work, and bring to their dinner tables. Very quickly, all this negativity goes viral.
Violent events capture our attention, too. With each catastrophe we obsessively comb the news and the internet to turn over every detail of the event, researching causes, backgrounds, inciting events. We pour over features on the backgrounds of each victim, each perpetrator. This, too, we then copy, forward, bring up in conversation at work, and bring to our dinner tables, which then gets passed along in exactly the same way, again taking negativity viral.
So here’s a lesson in physics. Negativity begets negativity; positivity begets positivity.
Think of it this way – if I have 2 glasses, one is for filling with positive energy, one is for filling with negative energy, and I want to fill the one for positive energy, I can’t do that if I am occupied with filling the negative one. Any amount of time spent immersed in the negative charges the negative, gives it power by turning our attention and focus to it, and therefore increases it. Even if my desire is to make a stand that “I don’t agree with that”, spending all the time to copy/forward/discuss/repeat the original negative statement only charges it. Spending time and focus on the topic of discord simply adds to, and creates, more discord.
In the Jewish Creation story God does not create light. God calls FORTH the light that WAS ALWAYS THERE. The light that was CONCEALED by the darkness, but was always there, simply waiting to be called forth. The fact that this story in the original Hebrew was written in the present tense tells me that Genesis, Creation, is not a historical record, but a blueprint – our ultimate “how-to” for creating the world we want to live in.
Peace, like Light, does not magically appear by itself. It has to be called forth. Peace is available at any moment. It is present all around us. It simply lies concealed in the darkness.
Notice the phrase is “making peace”. It takes our effort, our putting our hands in it. Spending all this time obsessing over the darkness of discord makes me blind to the fact that the light of peace exists if I just call it out.
If I hear something that prompts me to say “I don’t agree with that”, the antidote is not to charge the negative statement that I don’t agree with, but to simply focus on doing/being/creating more moments in my life and the lives of others that are positive. Doing this is calling forth peace. If we do this, the positive cup eventually gets full and overflows, and then the negative naturally diminishes. Because here’s the other twist: There’s only ever one cup – our world. Our world is the one cup, and we can either fill it with positive or fill it with negative, the choice is ours.
So… What if, instead of negativity, we choose to make peace viral?
Focusing on peace – putting our attention toward how we can create peace and call it forth in our moments with others – can be a spiritual practice. We often think of a spiritual practice as being a set-aside time to sit on a meditation mat and chant, or some variation of this. But a spiritual practice can be choosing to call forth peace, to create peace in our every encounter. This is not to say be an ostrich and ignore the world! It is to say look at the world in response instead of reacting to it.
Here’s a small example. Most of the copying/forwarding/repeating of negative statements as mentioned above is done with us adding commentary. We don’t just forward a statement a politician made, we add our own thoughts to it, calling the person who said what we don’t agree with any number of derisive names, cutting down that person, making snide comments. If I do this, I have totally tricked myself into thinking I am forwarding something under the guise of “I don’t agree with this”, when, in fact, all that added commentary is absolutely no different from the original statement with which I supposedly disagree. Hate is hate, negativity is negativity. Unfortunately this has become the norm on social media, news media, and around political talk. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
Choosing a spiritual practice of peace means choosing to not cut down the opinions of others, not cut down the person who says them. It means becoming master of our mouths, keeping them quiet when appropriate, and using their power, instead, to talk about topics that add peace and harmony to the world. It means not forwarding negative statements – walk away from them altogether. If you don’t like one political candidate, use your power to vote for the other without cutting down the one you don’t like. Tell others about the positive things of the candidate you do like, without regarding them as stupid if they don’t agree with you. If you don’t like something one candidate stands for, then scrutinize your own life to see if you might harbor such feelings in yourself, then change your personal life and let the candidate live their own life. These are powerful acts! So powerful that they can create a different world.
Here’s the bonus challenge for that spiritual practice: Find the good. If we master our mouths and close them for a moment, we can re-harness all that energy to then look beyond the superficial exterior and find the good in what it is we don’t like, or discover that the person we were previously cutting down is made by the same Creator as ourself. If you achieve that, you’ll have many pleasant surprises in your life. Because choosing a spiritual practice of peace creates peace within our own Self. Choosing a spiritual practice of peace creates for ourselves a peaceful family, a peaceful community, a peaceful life, which we can enjoy. And finding the good – see for yourself how much your world expands, and how much more abundance you experience, as the fruits of that practice.