Plan for peace, get ready to sacrifice
To truly work and plan for peace, we have to want it. This is not as easy or obvious as it may sound. If you ask every single person today whether he...
To truly work and plan for peace, we have to want it. This is not as easy or obvious as it may sound. If you ask every single person today whether he wants peace in the world, I believe that 100 percent of the people polled would say 'yes'. Yet, ironically, our world is being violently battered.
How can we all want peace and yet perpetrate war? The answer is that we want peace, but only if it comes in the specific 'peace-package' that we deem appropriate. We do not want peace at all costs. If we are going to work to bring peace in the world, we have to be prepared to put peace first and our desires second.
This does not mean that we have to calmly stand aside while other people or other nations invade, pillage and destroy us, our families and that which is ours. It does mean though that we will neither invade nor pillage nor destroy that which is someone else's, regardless of how much we want something they possess. Really wanting peace means that we have to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
One of the mistakes that we make in the peace-building process is when we speak about 'tolerance'. We say, 'We must learn to tolerate differences.
However, implicit in the very word tolerance is the underlying assumption that we do not approve of that which we are tolerating. Tolerance implies bearing something unpleasant. It implies endurance and forbearance in situations we would rather avoid. Rather than tolerance, we should cultivate acceptance of differences. Let us not begin the peace- building process on a foundation of negativity.
Let us switch from talk of tolerance to talk of acceptance. Let us lay a positive foundation of mutual respect and acceptance. Let us work to truly accept each other, despite differences of culture and creed, rather than simply tolerate each other.
Another tragic flaw in the current peace-building processes is the inherent sense of 'us' versus 'them'. We are so focussed on the differences between our cultures, nations, and religions that we forget we are all brothers and sisters on this Earth.
The similarities between us far outweigh the differences, regardless of how deep or wide the chasm between us may appear. We are all human.... We all deeply believe that we are working for 'good' and 'right'. No one who picks up a gun or a grenade or fires a missile believes that he is in the wrong. Each believes God is on his side.
Therefore, the goal of peace-building is not to ascertain who is right and who is wrong, who is the holy one and who is the infidel, but rather to break the barriers, boundaries and borders that separate us, to work for solutions that address our basic and intrinsic human needs and aspirations.
The goal is to realise that every side in a war is 'our side', and that every bombed building is our home. When we can truly cultivate these feelings of oneness in our heart, then and only then can we really begin working for lasting, unshakable peace in the world.
-Swami Chidanand Saraswati