Imagine a world where each individual had the commitment and the skill to positively interact with all beings with respect and honor, even if the other
’s’ views and beliefs were different. Imagine being committed to collaboration and not breaking the connection through fear, hate or anger, avoiding further misunderstandings and, ultimately, fights, crime, and war. Imagine feeling so fulfilled and confident in yourself that you naturally desire to empower others.
We have moved into an age of global connection. There is little on this planet that doesn’t in some way affect something else; every altercation has ramifications to all nations. When the economy or government of one nation shifts, ripples will eventually reach other nations. The news is filled with stories showing the volatility of the world economy and the urgency to heal our relationship with the environment. This shift requires us to be more involved with the whole.
We are currently in a phase of history where much is shifting, even crumbling. This has enormous advantages. This means we discard old, outdated ways to make room for new modes of governing and relating to one another. This also holds the possibility to cause more havoc if we are not responsible. I have been involved with the Occupy Oakland movement for a couple of weeks now and I am learning a lot about passion, frustration and the essential need for solidarity, perseverance, level-headedness and clear structures for communication and collaboration.
Conflict can only occur when we are being negatively judgmental and acting from our reactive behavior, when the goal of a relationship or an encounter is to defeat the other or when someone chooses to avoid hearing or speaking the truth. If we are going to move peacefully through the current shifts in our personal relationships, in our communities, and on a global scale, we will need to develop clearer, respectful ways to communicate in order to find new, creative solutions to current problems.
At the beginning of the twenty first century, we understand very well that our actions have consequences, and that we have the power and the right to transform and evolve. We see the potential of the individual and have created a culture where many of us have the freedom to attempt to manifest our goals.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to have this opportunity, I say now is the time to take what we have learned and do something with this knowledge! We have the resources, skills, healing, and wisdom to actually make a difference in our relationships, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, and globally. Every small contribution makes a difference. If we can truly take responsibility for our actions and support others in their process toward conscious interaction, we will see positive change.
Peacemaking should not focus solely on law enforcement and getting armies to put down their weapons. The true work of peacemaking is teaching each individual how to shift his or her personal behavior when engaging with others. For positive, lasting change to occur, we must develop the skills to stay engaged with others in a peaceful way, even when we disagree and especially when someone has been hurt.
The true practice of the peacemaker is to manage reactive behavior while having the generosity to hear someone else’s side to a story and then skillfully reach resolution and understanding or find ways to disagree respectfully. This is the blueprint of a twenty-first century peacemaking coalition.
And it all starts with the individual! It doesn’t take place on the battlefields. It takes place in the family kitchens, the schoolyard, the workplace, in line at the supermarket, and currently in tent villages around the world. Each time we avoid or resolve conflict we move one step closer to a culture of lasting peace. Disturbing feelings and misunderstandings may still be present, but we will feel confident that we can overcome these disturbances and find a way to stay connected.
Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must see the world anew.” Using complicated methods to solve problems only creates more complications. The solutions are simple: begin with first acknowledging the power of openhearted connection, which includes respect, compassion, generosity, and understanding. Then, learn the skills to engage from the heart and maintain that connection with others, even when it gets challenging. When you are in your heart
you tap into your wisdom and common sense as a source of energy and power.
We won’t take action until we feel what is happening around us. When you are fully in your heart and feel compassion, you will not be able to tolerate that people are hungry, that you are fighting with loved ones, or that others are suffering. You will search for new policies and strategies that acknowledge that the only way you can win is if everyone elseinvolved also wins.
Judgments, assumptions, and all the concepts that keep us separate (for instance, victim/perpetrator, Democrat/Republican, rich/poor) seem to fall away. You begin to feel what vulnerability really is, and more importantly, you begin to discover the enormous power in vulnerability. And I believe that it is only in your vulnerability that your true power is revealed.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but if you are interested and intrigued, stay engaged, and let’s explore this together!