I sat with a group today over lunch and the topic of peace arose and it caused me to ponder – what indeed is peace. I have found little of it my life as it appears that there is this restlessness that appears each time as I get to a “place” in life where perhaps peace appears to be within reach. Just as current stresses become settled the need to shift arises to test and try me.
Yet, the most talked about issue in the world today is peace and how we might achieve it. That was the tenor of the discussion by the people, with whom I sat today, who appear to me to be at peace with their lives, with their place and with their beliefs. But, they want peace for others just like their own sense of peace.
I wonder, as I am prone to do at times, if they can even comprehend what peace looks like to those who are mired in poverty, those whose spirit has been abused and tormented or those who have been recently and continually bombed without even knowing why. Would these poor people even recognize peace, as we so envisage it in this developed world, because, even peace in this world is threatened by those who suggest change, ask why or complain.
But, there are those who are going to force our brand of peace on others, whether they want it or not. We are witnessing it today as we interfere once again in Afghanistan. They will have peace even if it means killing all of then – then at least there will be peace in the land or so it is suggested. What folly, for immediately as those in power are shifted, others move in to divvy up the spoils, lay claim to the resources and share up the land. Before anyone knows it, conflict arises and peace is short lived, if it appears at all.
This seems to be the way of humankind, ever since they arrived on this planet. If we are not in conflict with others, we are in conflict with nature and if not with nature, and then we have this innate ability to be in conflict with ourselves – the mind versus the soul. Conflict seems more the norm than peace, yet we continue to strive for peace, another of life’s ideals, unachievable perhaps, just sent to try us.
Because in life it appears that only the things that try us, cause us to grow to learn to achieve. There appears little benefit in the things that bring us comfort, otherwise peace would rein and the trials of life would not appear. For aren’t all of life’s trials brought on by ourselves through our desires, ambitions or greed – the need to have what we want even if we don’t need much less use whatever it is.
So here am I once again contemplating my own life, wondering what’s next when I am still dealing with the trials of my current endeavor, still with all of its own trials and tribulations and bringing angst to my life. Just imagine, I am sitting today with a group discussing peace from the vista of a restaurant where there is service, food and plenty and my mind was full of beginning notes from a book called “Death on the Ice” that appeared in front of me yesterday at a second hand shop in Chateauguay. A book about the early seal hunt in Newfoundland where seals were more important than men. This book describes the atrocities inflicted on men and boys by one whose belief in God was only surpassed by belief in himself.
The crazy coincidence is that I promised a copy of this book to a young woman in the Gaspe last spring as she returned from the MagdalenIslands and was puzzled that no one wanted to discuss with her the seal hunt and its decline. I suggested that she read this book and she might understand WHY. But WHY is not a good word these days in our world.
We shouldn’t ask why the Trade Center was bombed much less raise the issue why we are bombing Afghanistan when all that is left from prior Russian bombings are mud huts and mine fields. Nor should we question the pictures that appeared on the screen from Kabul immediately after the Taleban left, showing television shops, fancy goods stores and the like, that appeared to the most important thing to those that remained in this devastated city. These people all of a sudden became crass consumers for western goods when a few days before they were facing starvation and destitution let alone heavy bombing.
But, I do ask why – why one would think that anyone with an inkling of knowledge of real life would believe the propaganda of those “bringing” peace to Afghanistan, at any cost, even life. And I do ask myself why I am not at peace with myself, despite my own creature comforts, an income and a family who care. Why the restlessness, the need to do more, to work all day Sunday just to prepare for the week ahead.
What is the answer and where can it be found. Of course, at my deepest place I know the answer lies in the trials, the torments and in the restlessness. That is where the real peace lies in recognizing who you are, your very deeps roots and the need that I have to find ways to make it a little more comfortable for those unable, at this point in time, to do it for themselves. Maybe in some way that is what eventually will give me peace, knowing that with a little help sometimes people can be encouraged to find their own place of peace and, in so doing, bring some peace to this restless world.
I am an idealist, but also a realist, knowing full well that most of the ideals people set for others bring more conflict than peace and that ideals, are dreams to be searched for but never arrived at. For deep down we all know that, when we arrive at the peace of life we will have completed this life’s journey and beyond that, we can only hope. It is in the hope that the real peace exists and in life’s dreams there are the true blessings. Peace, ultimately lies in the never-ending search for the spirit (God to some) and the journey of discovery that this search provides.
My message to those who would espouse peace, if I had the courage to speak out, would be to find your own peace and let others find theirs. That doesn’t discount the fact that we might provide a helping hand to those who struggle the most, or comfort for those that may never find peace. What it does say though is that everyone needs to experience their own journey to peace and we shouldn’t rob them of this journey by inflicting them with ours.