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VOICES: Peace really does begin with me

Wednesday was the International Day of Peace. This world holy day also known as World Peace Day was initially proclaimed or instituted by the United Nations in 1981. The date of Sept. 21 was nailed down in 2001 (so 10 days after our 9-11 World Trade Center attack).

So, how are we doing? The secretary general of UN called for CEASE FIRE. I listened to a Democracy Now radio broadcast Monday, and there were several new territorial wars besides the Ukraine.

We are not doing very well, to be polite.

I was once in a Tibetan Buddhist group where you were only admitted to the group if you believed in the possibility of world peace. I truly do.

I asked a dear woman friend who has done great service on this planet to family and community if she thought we could end war and conflict.

She said that she thought it was possible only by “divine intervention.”

I wonder why anyone would choose to fight and kill if all of their needs for love, home, nutrition, safety were met and they were free to say what they wanted and believe as they chose.

And, meeting those needs looks simple to me.

I asked, “Is there something innate in human beings, something genetic, that prevents us from truly being peaceful?”

I do not think so.

My friend told me that her father decided to be an educator for this purpose. Starting with birth practices and early childhood, caring seems to make sense. If we develop in an atmosphere of loving acceptance and receive education in how to meet our needs, then we would be unlikely to feel fear, which leads to violence.

We sing a song in The Sacred Earth Choir that says “I can be peace. There’s something I can do, and if everybody tries it, we’ll have peace before we’re through. I can be kind to my family and offer up a smile to the strangers that I see. I can be peace.”

So, what can I do?

First thing that appears for me is when I become aware of anger arising in me to look inside myself at what was I afraid of or what was I needing that I am not getting. If I feel irritated or annoyed by or at another person, they probably did not respond to me the way I wanted them to.

So, I could decide to give myself what I need rather than having the dysfunctional or insane idea that someone else is responsible for doing or saying what I want them to. In other words, I can love myself regardless of what others do or say.

I changed from being depressed to being happy when I realized that what I felt was 100 percent my choice. And what others felt was 100 percent their choice.

When I am happy and well fed and safe, I am not likely to start a war.

If you may love discussing this concept or any other perspectives on peaceful living, please come join me and The Interfaith Round Table of Kaua‘i at noon on Saturday, Sept. 24, for a peace walk over to the tall Quan Yin at the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji for an afternoon of celebration of peace.


Steve Backinoff is a campaigner for peace and a Kapa‘a resident.
Source: The Garden Island

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