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How Your Relationships Can Be a Dynamic Force for Spreading Peace

Logo of I Declare World Peace in Ukraine colorsMAUDE: Our world is filled with violence, war, and divisive forces striving to drive us apart and to emphasize the differences between us as real and insurmountable. Many find themselves feeling like they are insignificant against this tidal wave of hate and intolerance. Yet we are not insignificant.

The reason Phil and I write our blog, books and newsletter is to share a wonderful mystery that we have experienced; a simple truth, really, but one often overlooked or not acknowledged. Peace is a way of living, of being. It is the center of our relationship, not as a goal or an image or a thought, but as a visceral reality. Through the practices we write about and teach, we live with peace as our foundation and underpinning in all we do. And this is not just confined to our relationship. It spreads to how we act, how we are in the world. It is spreading to all our relationships.

This applies to all of us. This is a force far stronger than any movement to separate us from each other. We must not allow this light to be diminished, but rather we must strive to spread this reality. Each of us can be a dynamic force to spread peace in the world. It is real and it is catching. It can be the center of all the relationships that you have.

Our differences are not a reason for separating us. They can, in fact, enrich our lives, and help us to see the common bonds we have despite the outer differences. As you come to understand that each person is unique, and that this difference, rather than being a threat, has the potential to be a great harmonic chorus, you can look at the similarities rather than the differences. The sense of threat from what isn’t familiar weakens and creates a sense of calm and acceptance. It is only one small step to see that we are all related and on the same side. And we all desire the same thing at heart – peace.

Phil and I know from our direct experience that this is possible. We hope you will join us in spreading peace within all your relationships, one relationship at a time. We can change ourselves and change the world.

PHIL: I was in my thirties before I realized that I had always been a pacifist, and had only just found the label. At school, I avoided joining the Combined Cadet Force and marching around in military uniform. A few years ago, I set up peacepoll.org which asked two questions:

  1. Would you like to see world peace?
  2. Can you live your life without furthering the cause of war?

But it is my relationship with Maude that has given me my greatest understanding of peace. You see, we have a peaceful relationship. We don’t argue, ever. This is not a “just hasn’t happened yet” situation, it is a deep, visceral sense I have, a sense of peace that is a state that I experience, just like a state of agitation or worry.

This week, the war in Ukraine escalated with numerous attacks on civilian centers. I can easily imagine the mindset of the Ukrainians, as I grew up in post-war London with bomb sites and rationing. Churchill was, and still is, venerated as the inspiration of national will (“We shall fight on the beaches”), and Zelinsky is his heir. This is a just war, and I fully support it, even as a pacifist.

But how do we reduce war? By spreading peace, and that can happen in several ways. By being peaceful inside, you influence other people. That visceral sense of peace is picked up, maybe by mirror neurons, and you aren’t seen as a threat.

Another way is to act peacefully toward other people. To do otherwise is to set up conflict. Instead, approach issues the way we describe in our process: by sharing your wants and needs and looking for underlying commonality. By being peaceful in these ways, you spread it in the world.

You might object that when we talk about our process, we say that we can always find a solution because we share core values, yet when talking to (say) a political opponent, there are very different values at work. But you always share things with other people: you eat, you sleep, you need companionship. Look at what you have in common, not at what separates you. You are two stems from a common root. Peace is the sense of unity behind all things.

Art design: Rita Gelber
Note: Image from the I Declare World Peace project.

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about how your relationships can be a dynamic force for spreading peace. Here are some sources with ideas for how you can do that. 

How to Find Inner Peace by Resolving Conflicting Feelings "One of the more difficult challenges of being human is the difference between us and ourselves. So many conflicting feelings and thoughts can be churning within us at any given time. For instance, you can be truly happy for a friend who just found the love of her life, and also be a little miffed that she no longer has time for you—and that you still haven’t found your perfect relationship. Or you can be thrilled about the great job promotion that you've worked hard to achieve, yet also feel guilty that you've been working too many hours and missing your kids."

Inner Peace through Inner Ease "There are many helpful suggestions and paths for creating peace. More people are realizing that peace is first an “inside job.” At HeartMath, we have found that creating inner peace often starts with practicing what we call “inner ease”. HeartMath founder Doc Childre developed a science-based “Inner Ease” technique to help people experience living more from a state of ease."

Ten ways you can promote peace "1. Develop your understanding of the frames of mind that promote conflict and violence against another group: a) The perception that another group threatens our well-being b) A sense of uncertainty about our safety and security c) The belief that our own group is superior to another group."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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