By: Katie Runnels
May we be instruments of peace.
Recently, I have felt impassioned about the injustices in our world. I left an abusive job situation a few months ago in which I witnessed people look the other way instead of speak up, and try to pretend like things just fix themselves. News flash: they usually don’t.
Edmund Burke stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”–in a letter to Thomas Mercer (www.openculture.com).
In recent months and weeks I have felt more and more impassioned about the dysfunctions in our world: I felt impassioned about my (past) workplace dysfunction, impassioned about my neighborhood situation (contractors stealing water from unsuspecting homeowners), and impassioned about neglectful leaders (parents, church leaders, etc.). I started to get really angry. So angry. I HAD TO DO SOMETHING. I HAD TO TAKE ACTION. At least this was the message I kept telling myself.
I went, (as my former priest, Father Phil, would say), “nuclear.” Just about a week ago I watched the movie Spotlight . This movie more than outlines–(it gives the facts and details)–of how adults (police officers, lawyers, church leaders, and even journalists), “looked the other way” (for over forty years) while children were knowingly being sexually victimized by Catholic priests. My anger against big institutions, greed, and corruption fueled. The fire started growing.
I became a crusader.
I wrote this person. I confronted that person. I took names. I named names. I made lists. I took numbers. I called numbers. I called organizations. I used my “voice.” And oh, “by golly,” I was making a difference….
There was one little glitch, though:
I lost my inner peace. Anger had begun to embitter my heart and soul. Negative energy began to ooze out of my pores. Sadly, I think I started to look like some of the speakers at the Republican National Convention. Oh no!
(If you think you like that angry and negative energy, please look mirror and see how attractive it really is….and recall that Melania Trump’s speech (although it was likely plagiarized and completely self-contracting to the whole convention’s theme) was actually a little pleasant to watch. Part of it is the fact that she is a supermodel, but the other part is the fact that she was least (for two seconds) was not focused on anger.
Back to the original point: Peace.
My anger had gone from a 1 to a 10 in three days. And my poor husband started to wonder who this creature was: ranting and raving around the house all day.
Luckily, I said a little prayer: “Jesus, please keep my heart soft while I am trying to stand up for justice.” If you don’t believe in Jesus, maybe it could be an affirmation, a statement, or a simple meditation on peace. It works.
Like the flick of a switch, I knew I had to stop going down this crusader’s road in this manner. I can still go down this road to stand up for what is right, but I need to stop running with my sword wildly swinging. Instead, I need to walk with a torch steadily moving forward.
In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks and shootings, I made a decision (yesterday) to do the opposite of what so many people are doing right now: FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! I chose to make amends and forgive those who had offended me. I chose to make peace people with myself. I invited peace to fill me. I am now spreading that peaceful energy in the world (well, at least in my little world–and hopefully the larger world).
Don’t get me wrong, putting up a fight is important. And I did not (and I do not) retract all of my statements and concerns. I simply now realize there is a way to strive for truth while at the same time striving for peace. There is a way to fight without beating to death. There is way to shed light without burning the whole house down. (I am good at thinking that I am shining a light, when actually I am burning buildings and bridges).
We can make a difference. We must make a difference. We must stand up. We must stand out. We must not avoid. We must not be afraid.
But how? Through our personal example. We have to become the light from the inside–while at the same time confronting–head on–bad behavior. It is not easy, though.
It takes awareness. It requires mindfulness. It requires peace within our souls first:
According to Richard Rohr, “Transformed people transform people” (http://www.brainyquote.com).
Let us start today. Let us start with ourselves. We can make a difference if we stop living in fear. We can be courageous and stand up. We don’t have to be violent, though.
Martin Luther King, Jr. stated:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word” – (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_peace.html).
Please read and and meditate on the following ancient prayer. Please connect with your own heart today.
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument* of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort,than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
-Saint Francis of Assisi
Don’t get me wrong: I still believe in stating the facts, calling people out on their bad behavior, and courageously doing what you know in your heart is right–even if it means rejection and loneliness. As a society full of individuals, we need to look past our own and immediate circumstances and egos in order to confront the underlying issues of dysfunction. However, the purpose needs to ultimately about achieving more peace in our world.
The following article is taken directly from http://www.chopra.com. I found it very informative and helpful. I hope you do, as well.
7 Days a Week: Daily Habits for Peace
by: Deepak Chopra, M.D. ShareThis Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Pinterest Email
The balance of peace in the world can seem overwhelming, as if huge forces outside your control are in charge. But you can take a different perspective by setting the goal for yourself of creating peace all around you. The world’s wisdom traditions teach that the source of violence, war, discontent, rebellion, and unrest lies inside each of us. When you become a unit of peace consciousness, exemplifying the quality known as Ahimsa (harmlessness) in Yoga, you have added in a unique way to bringing the world to a state of peace.
Develop your peace consciousness by focusing on a different habit every day of the week.
Monday: Habit #1—Being Calm and Centered
Peace is the natural state of the mind at its deepest level. Non-peace begins in small ways, when you are worried, restless, distracted, uneasy, or dissatisfied. Today be mindful of those signals from your inner world. When you feel them, take a moment to return to your calm space. Either meditating or simply sitting in a quiet space with eyes closed and taking easy, deep breaths, works very well. Today’s habit is learning how to act upon early signals that peace isn’t there inside.
Tuesday: Habit #2—Non-participation
To be a unit of peace consciousness, don’t participate in the opposite attitude, which magnifies the reasons to be un-peaceful. Today, avoid conversations that include gossip, blame, backbiting, and discussions of how terrible the world is. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, acting as if everything is already perfect. Simply focus on not participating when you can feel that a situation is turning toward anger, resentment, envy, and hostility in any form.
Wednesday: Habit #3—Taking No Side
Peace consciousness wants peace to be equally shared by everyone. This isn’t possible if you take sides, judge against others, or indulge in us-versus-them thinking. Today, be aware of everyone’s right to have peace. When you find yourself reacting with a knee-jerk response against a certain person, group, faith, ethnicity, or belief system, remind yourself that you can hold a different viewpoint while still wishing peace for all concerned.
Thursday: Habit #4—The Intention of Peace
Peace consciousness becomes more powerful as it deepens. One way to deepen your awareness is to put an intention out to the universe, which really means connecting with your higher self. Today, any time you witness or confront a situation that needs a peaceful resolution, ask inside that the way to peace be opened for everyone. Sit quietly with this intention for a few moments, letting your heart go out to those not at peace.
Friday: Habit #5—Commune in Peace
When people of peace get together, they magnify their consciousness. Today, find a way to commune with someone else who wants peace. This can be through sitting with a child and absorbing his or her innocence, or discussing the topic of peace with a sympathetic person. You might consider joining a group that is working at any level of peace, such as preventing violence or helping troubled teens. Feel the warmth of sharing your peace with others.
Saturday: Habit #6—Selfless Service
Peace consciousness wants to be of service. It does little good to be at peace passively in isolation. Today, allow someone else to feel the peace you have found by being of service. Let yourself experience the kindness, good will, and compassion you can bring to a troubled situation. Your service can be as modest as visiting the elderly or as active as joining a community outreach project. Your aim is to give and receive at the level of peace that benefits both people at the same time.
Sunday: Habit #7—The Soul’s Peace
At the deepest level, there is infinite peace, undisturbed by the play of opposites and the clash of darkness versus light. From the soul’s perspective, there is only pure Being. Today, take time to meditate on your true nature as unbounded love, compassion, reverence for life, and unity with the divine presence. See the light expanding from your heart in all directions. Let simply being here be enough.
Soak up the beauty of Nature and realize that you are an indispensable part of the journey to enlightenment that lies ahead for everyone who steps on to the path. Just as there is only one state of pure Being, there is only one peace, which blesses every person equally.
Connect to the place within where nothing is impossible at our meditation & yoga retreat, Seduction of Spirit. This is a chance to renew your strength as you gently connect to your peaceful nature. Click here to learn more.