Writing is an Itch. This is a place to scratch.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hey, Who Took My Peace?

By Rattus Scribus© 4 Oct 2010
(Much revised and condensed from a speech I gave a few years ago.)

Peace means many things to different people.

There is "Peace on Earth": an end to all wars and hostilities between races, classes, parties and nations, and the institution of interdependent and mutually beneficial understanding, friendship and cooperation.

There is "Green Peace" (the moniker taken by the world famous organization): an end to the thoughtless stewardship and openly destructive exploitation of the planet, and the institution of interdependent and mutually beneficial environmental sustainability.
There is "Social Peace": an end to all the human-created divisions, prejudices, and oppressions between races, classes, genders, religions and cultures, and the institution of universal dignity, justice and equality.

There is "Relational Peace": an end to all broken and exclusionary affective associations, and the achievement of reconciliation, not merely as toleration, duty, or reluctant obedience to law, but as genuine conviviality and heartfelt embrace.

There is "Inner Peace": an end to the mental, emotional and spiritual state of turmoil, regret and self-condemnation, and the achievement of unfeigned calmness, contentment, and assurance even in the face of adversity and the unknown.

There is often so little peace in the myriad areas of life, that writer, director, actor Woody Allen once put it humorously:

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Challenges ranging from the personal (family and relations, health and finances) to the global (war and recession, crime and disaster) seem to conspire to make us all ask at some point in our lives: "Hey, who took my peace?"

Troy McClure, The Simpsons, Fox TV

Unfortunately, there are many oversimplified explanations about what robs or prevents peace and what to do about it. I remember an old Simpson's TV episode that mocked such easy answers.

Troy McClure (TV host): "Hi. I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such self help tapes as 'Smoke Yourself Thin,' and 'Get Some Confidence, Stupid'." [...Let's welcome our guest, Brad Goodman.]
Brad Goodman (self-help guru): "Troy, let's say this circle is you."
Troy McClure: "My God! It's like you've known me all my life!"

I am not here to claim (1) that I have the patented answer (do exactly what I do and you'll get the same results), or (2) that I experience complete peace in all areas of my life under all conditions seen and unforeseen. Most of us still register disappointment with questioning, doubt, anger and tears. That only means we are authentically human.

But I do believe that an undercurrent of peace as a part of our being and apart from and undiminished by the tumultuous waves of circumstances is possible. I have read of it; I have seen in others; I have personally experienced it. And I have learned that it does not exist or come by accident.

David Hunt, Walking on Water at Bosham

I have come to see that peace is something that comes gradually with maturity through the habit of conscious effort. For me it starts with the principle of the "golden rule" which is foundational to my faith. But you need not be of my religious tradition to live by the "golden rule," a rule not owned by one religion, nor applicable just to humans, but in all relations: international, environmental, social, personal, and yes even inward.

Peace Dove, artist unknown

For if you are consciously committed to nevermore think, say or do anything to anyone that you would never want thought, said, or done to you, that conscious commitment is the beginning of wisdom. And the beginning of wisdom is surely the beginning of peace.

"What lies behind us
and what lies before us,
are small matters compared to
what lies within us."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wisdom & Peace


Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Beautiful post Ruben! You hit the nail on the head.. This is how I try to live.. Pretty simple when you think about it. The golden rule... I believe if everyone could ~get that~ we would all live in peace..
Warms regards my friend.

Sarah said...

Ruben, what a thoughtful post to start the week. The Golden Rule ~ if only the world would embrace it as the standard of behavior. Have you seen Ilene Cooper's book THE GOLDEN RULE? It is beautifully illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska.
Have a great week. ~ Sarah

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Hey you...your kind comments on my post today set a mood of PEACE in me as I quickly glanced at my blog on my way out of the classroom. Peace is probably what I crave the most in a day. If I can have a peaceful attitude, my behavior is influenced by what I have WITHIN ME...there is such wisdom in the notion that peace starts in us first, then radiates outward...unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world that lack that GOLDEN RULE in their hearts. I want to live my life with YOU in total peace and share it. A wonderful post, eloquently written as always, and worthy of course, of publishing. See you later, Moi

The Dutchess said...

Peace to you my friend..:)

Kelly said...

"For if you are consciously committed to nevermore think, say or do anything to anyone that you would never want thought, said, or done to you, that conscious commitment is the beginning of wisdom." -Very well put.
I agree. It comes down to treating others how we would like to be treated.

May I ask you a question? I know you teach at a college/Uni. level. That is what I hope to do once I graduate with my Masters. Question is, do I have to have my Phd to teach at the univeristy level, or can I work to obtain it while teaching at the uni. level?

Marie said...

Wow! I started working on a post about inner peace and have yet to finish, and now wonder if I should. This post is wonderfully written; so full of truth.

Thank you for your wisdom and beautiful talent for the written word.

Love you cousin,

Jacqueline said...

I scramble like a bunch of eggs "hot" to get out of the frying pan...where is peace? I want a piece of peace please?

Can we slice it, dice it, scramble it into our lives please, oh please, Ruben?

Does the bible not tell us that God gives us a peace that passes all understanding?

In my adulthood, I've had a hard time with peace. I think that is why I make a choice and still live in a Fairyland world. When I was 16, I remember saying to my mom..."Mom! I hate growing up and making all these decisions, there's no peace in it!"

My very still peaceful place is when I was about 7. There was this huge fir tree in the Fairyland and dad put a little church down at the base of that tree. There was a bench and a rusty cross there. A creek ran by it. You had to go down the hill to it. Birds sang down there, and frogs and tadpoles were in the little pond beside the creek. It was my first encounter looking way up through the tree branches and down into the window of the little stained glass church where I realized peace was. I remember thinking...God is so big, and I'm so little but it was peace that I found. I also found great peace, at the death bed of both my parents. It can be found and kept for sure.

Yes...Love...and peace, given to the world for our taking.

Fete et Fleur said...

Love you, Ruben. I'm trying to walk it. Now I want to feel it.