Ever since the outbreak of hostilities between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah, my email inbox has been jammed with requests to send prayers, light candles, link up with meditation groups, sign petitions, send light and love, and a host of similar calls to inaction. The latest one, forwarded by a friend, sported the subject line: “Help Stop the Bloodshed in the Middle East.”
The email requested that I join in signing a petition “calling on US President Bush, UK Prime Minister Blair, and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to support Kofi Annan’s proposal. If millions of people join this call, and we advertise our views in newspapers in the US, UK, and Israel, we can help pressure these leaders to stop the fighting.” A link was provided to the Stop the Bloodshed: Ceasefire Now website: http://www.ceasefirecampaign.org/. The organizers of the website want at least 100,000 signatures on their petition. There is little doubt that they will achieve it.
My friend had added her sentiments to the email before forwarding it to her distribution list: “I’m sending this on because I believe it to be a good way of demonstrating that we are many millions who don’t believe in the ‘eye for an eye’ reaction which only leads to never-ending violence and grief. And the UN really needs a show of support!”
Her email remained in my inbox for several days as I struggled with how I wanted to respond. How easy it would have been to add my name to the growing list of supporters, believing/pretending that I was making a contribution to peace in our time.
Anyone who reads my articles knows that the present conflict concerns me greatly. In fact, I have been spending quite a bit of time lately digging into the story behind the story. What I have found is deeply disturbing: nothing is what the combatants, the media, and the debating nations would have us believe (see: http://www.prismhouse.com/upiforum/123.php). Supporting the UN in this matter is like attempting to stop a rape by sending a donation to the Society for the Reformation of Manners.
In fact, our language and culture have completely lost touch with the meaning of the word “peace.” As with so many things in this dualistic illusion we live in, the term has both a negative and a positive aspect. The difference between them is not at all trivial; indeed, it lies at the heart of both the problem currently manifesting in the Middle East and its solution.
The negative connotation of peace only expresses the absence of its perceived opposite. From this perspective, peace is what fills the spaces between hostilities. In other words, peace has no distinct properties of its own; it is merely the absence of war. The positive meaning of peace, on the other hand, refers to a palpable internal quality arising out of love, aesthetics, spiritual practice, and a host of other activities that touch and personally transform us as individuals. It is not the peace between (which implies separation) but the peace within (which speaks of unity) that we should be seeking. It is a travesty of our language and culture that the same word is so loosely applied to both conditions; because of it, otherwise caring and intelligent people turn too easily into sloppy thinkers.
Negative peace is an inadequate, Band-Aid response to a gushing artery. Positive peace is the only answer. But it does not come as cheaply as adding one’s name to a petition, wearing wrist bands, or joining prayer circles suggests. Creating positive peace is not the business of groups or negotiations; it is not achieved through organizations, nations, religions, or – heaven help me – well-intentioned emails. Positive peace is an exquisite pearl that forms initially in response to the irritation of the world’s condition, and then is perfected over the years by sustained personal effort.
I have come to realize that when I go to sleep at night believing something and wake up the next morning believing the same thing, it’s no big deal. It merely means that I’m stuck and need to shift. Anyone following world events over the past few decades can see how solidly entrenched we humans have become in our beliefs – defending them by any means at our disposal, even if it means killing others in the process. I am deeply committed to helping to change the consciousness of this planet. I long ago accepted that this change can take place only one person at a time, and that if I am to make even the smallest contribution, it must start with me.
I invite you to find peace, to think peace, to embrace peace, and ultimately, to become peace. Let this be the moment when you finally stop looking to others to do what you came here to accomplish. This, I believe, is what Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi meant when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
We have all been living in illusions within the illusion, duped by the distortions and outright lies fed to us from birth by others who, for the most part, are unwitting earlier victims of the same process that befalls us. The choice before you is both immediate and unequivocal: follow the herd or break free.
Not only do you need to awaken, but – for reasons I will explore more fully with you in the months to come – you need to awaken now. The vast majority of people around you will not wish to face these all too certain realities. They would prefer to remain anesthetized by the distractions of our affluent societies.
There is far more happening right under our noses than you can imagine. Each new column that I file for UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum takes me deeper into the abyss. If you haven’t been reading them, you might want to look at the latest pieces about the Middle East. (http://www.prismhouse.com/upiforum/index.php?ID=prismhouse&IN=N) They certainly shifted my perception of what this struggle is all about and how it was deliberately engineered as part of a far greater agenda.
Perhaps when you begin to clearly see the larger game afoot, you will come to understand who you really are and how vitally important you are to the solution. The answer ultimately lies within each of us. What we make of ourselves determines the fate of those we would wish to see changed. I do not ask for agreement on this, only that you find the courage to go more deeply within yourself than you have ever done before. Let your heart be your guide. There is a very bright light at the end of this exceedingly long and dark tunnel, but it will not come from the UN, the Vatican, or the White House.
If it is to come at all, it must come from us.
Please share this message with those who are meant to be part of the solution. There have already been enough candles and vigils and prayers and meditations and emails to shift the tide of events fifty times over – and yet they continue. Now there’s some real work to be done.
Jean-Claude Gerard Koven is a writer and speaker based in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He was a featured weekly columnist for the UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum and is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, recipient of both the Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award and the USABookNews.com Award for the Best Metaphysical Book of the Year.
©2004 – 2021. Jean-Claude Gerard Koven / All Rights Reserved.