How Your Relationships Can Be a Dynamic Force for Spreading Peace
MAUDE: 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 people 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.Peace is a force far stronger than any movement to separate us from each other #peace #quote Click To Tweet
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:
- Would you like to see world peace?
- 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, a state no less real than 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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