Friday, December 20, 2013

We are entering into the Season of Peace. Every year at this time there are pronouncements of joy, harmony and good will and of the brotherhood of all mankind. Every year we hear these wishes of good cheer and every year we are left with disappointments. News bulletins of political strife, social ailments, disagreements and war continue to appear on a daily basis. How, we ask, are we ever going to achieve this peace for which we long and for which we seem to look in vain?

But is that peace so elusive? So it seems, if we confine ourselves to the news reports in the popular media or to the belligerent actions of our society’s leaders and those of other nations. But the good news is that peace is much more common in the world than we realize. Dig deeper, below the surface of the attention-getting articles and video clips that are normal fare in our media, and we can find instances of peace that exist now—even blueprints of how to achieve it. There are cultures in this world that live in peace, some that have done so for centuries and some that have consciously elected to do so only recently. There are those that have chosen and now possess an existence based on peace after having lived a warlike way of life for hundreds of years.

Many such peace cultures are small groups of people that are essentially hunter-gatherers and seem far removed from the complex existence of our modern world. But in these basic cultures can be found the patterns of behavior that lead to and are even necessary for a peaceful existence. By taking note and following these it is possible to structure any society along peaceful lines. And the fact that it is possible for a modern nation to follow the ways of peace is exhibited by the nations that have elected to do so. They exist. And as philosopher, sociologist and poet Kenneth Boulding said, “Anything that exists is possible.”

It is possible, but are we willing to live according to the principles of peace? Are we willing to learn new ways of living? Are we willing to learn new definitions of words and new ways of dealing with concepts such as right, wrong, competition, punishment, cooperation? We have been taught for so long that ours is the most advanced society in history, can we accept the fact that we have something to learn from others—especially from societies we think of as being inferior to ours. Do we really want peace that much?

Yet I believe that over and above all of this, comes the hardest lesson of all and that is the simple fact that peace does not come from “out there.” It does not come some ethereal plane, miraculously appearing at a certain season or at any other time to bless us. It does not come from some authority or prominent individual in our midst. The truth is that it does not come from outside of us at all. It comes from within and starts with a genuine desire to have peace and a willingness to do whatever is required to achieve it.

Peace comes from within and from there radiates out into the world. It is up to us to transfer it from our own beings into that physical world. The Season of Peace is always with us, always ready to be actualized. It is simply up to us—each of us—to see that that occurs.

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