Tis the season for “Peace on Earth”, at least that seems to be what I hear so many people saying, wishing for and singing about each winter holiday season. Then the year progresses and I look around, look at news reports and global events and it certainly makes me wonder.
Do you wish for “Peace on Earth”? Do you wish for peace in your life? My question is this, Peace – well what exactly does that mean? Truly, what does “peace” mean in all those wishes, songs and prayers?
Does peace mean the lack of violence? I am sure most of you reading consider violence the absence of peace. So maybe that is what Peace is, the Lack of Violence? Do you consider killing animals for food violent? After all it is killing, no matter the cause. How about killing an insect? Killing a plant for food is also violent. Is not all acts of killing, no matter the intent or necessity, violent? Where is that line drawn between a non-violent killing and a violent one? Who draws that line? To me there is no line, and the taking of life is a necessary part of this world. We all need to eat. We all should have enough self care to defend ourselves from attackers, and that means an insect preparing to bite or sting you and harmful microbes inside us. So perhaps Peace is not so much the lack of violence after all?
How about the lack of suffering? Suffering sure is not very peaceful. So maybe Peace is the lack of suffering? Everything alive suffers in one way or another though. So long as a creature has consciousness there is potential for suffering. So long as a creature has a brain and nervous system there is suffering in physical life. All life gets sick. All life is subject to injury. The more complex the conscious state and emotional levels, the more suffering on mental levels there tends to be. All physical life dies as well, and suffering is part of that, even if not for the life leaving, but for who remains. How could this physical world exist and function without suffering? The whole place is laid out with suffering intricately woven through every layer. So maybe the lack of suffering is not an attainable Peace?
What about Freedom? Could having freedom be the Peace people sing about? In a world from ancient times through the present there have been groups of people seeking to control others and all life around them. The very notion of a lack of full control of one’s own life tends to breed fear and fear tends to breed the need to assert control, even if imbalanced. Governments control us, global banks control us – how many of us actually own our own houses? Most people are in debt because they live in a house. The banks own our houses, not us. The economy controls us. The elements control us. The essential needs of the human body control us. Control exists everywhere you look on this planet. Has it ever not? Will praying for true freedom turn the world that seems to have always been as it is, upside-down? Well it sure has not so far. So perhaps freedom is not Peace?
Maybe Peace is then acceptance? Could peace be the acceptance of everything just as it is? The acceptance of all the negatives and all the positives in this life is something very few have mastered. If you accepted everything as is, would you have Peace? Acceptance does not remove violence, suffering or control, it just places the mind in a state that understands all of it has a place here in this life and we can never stomp it all out. Would Peace then be just accepting that there can never be the level of Peace we are taught and told we should hope for on this planet; not in the capacity it seems most think of Peace as anyway?
What about a lack of fear in life? Would that perhaps be what people seek when they pray for Peace? That is another tricky request or pursuit. I have written many times before about fear and the pros and cons of it. I think it would be very difficult to remove all fear from our lives. We live in a very dangerous and challenging world where fear has definite purpose, as well as enslaving properties. Maybe the removal of fear in life would be what is considered to be Peace, but it seems a very out of reach dream unless we go back to total acceptance.
How about faith as being Peace? Once again, faith differs greatly from person to person and once person’s idea of Peace in their faith can be very different than another persons. I think being solid in one’s faith does not necessarily mean Peace.
Maybe love is Peace? If one can completely love would that mean they have attained Peace? I suppose it is possible, but most people I have spoken with over the years who live in a higher state of love than many can identify a background fear of losing that which they love, or having it challenged or degrade. So maybe love is not necessarily Peace either?
How much have you thought about what Peace actually is, actually means? It’s a pretty hefty word that people throw around quite regularly and seemingly carelessly, but I think few actually step back and deeply ponder just exactly what it is. Most people I have spoken to about it seem to have a very unattainable, unrealistic idea of peace on earth.