Personal peace for world peace

How challenging it is to be confronted with the news each day and to witness so many levels of violence occurring.

Our new Prime Minister has taken up the cause against domestic violence.  This is admirable and a grand step in the right direction.  But personally I believe that we are living in times where violence readily expressed, exists not only within families, but across the scope society.

Unfortunately, all people are capable of violent behaviour when true control is absent and when reaction takes the place of considered response.Defined by the World Health Organization violence is described as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation”.  The definition goes on to say that, “generally, anything that is excited in an injurious or damaging way may be described as violent even if not meant to be violence (by a person and against a person)”.

Sigmund Freud, as a keen observer of human nature, states – “the fateful question of the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent the cultural process developed in it will succeed in mastering the derangement of communal life caused by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction”.

Yes, humanity has known violence throughout the ages.  But with the sophisticated technology of our time, it has come about that 21st century is witnessing at close range, extremes of violence.  These extremes are visible from the games little kids play on their iPods where the opposition is there to destroy or be destroyed, to the media of film with explicit possibilities or the terrifying footage of carnage on the evening news.  And so we are witnessing not only domestic violence but a range of levels within our entire world with a current state of dissension, aggression, power play, and human conflict at extreme levels of violence and destruction.

What about violence on our roads?  Angry words, coarse language, gestures, bullying and aggressive driving, blaring ‘music’, speeding out of control – all this on our roads speaks loudly of violence.  And the ‘accidents’ on our roads where lives are taken or innocent people are seriously injured due to irresponsible management of the car, and the pent up frustration, anger, violence within such drivers.

I’ve written before about the common lack of courtesy, discipline or respect … the inconsideration of other people, pushing through crowded streets, the expression of a self centred approach to life where the ‘me’ factor is so apparent.

And, very importantly, where role models from media and sporting ‘personalities’ to politicians take advantage of their privilege to admit to criminal and sexual misconduct, or drug and alcohol abuse and beyond.

The modern world is quickly losing more and more of the societal values that bring strength, allowing attitudes of exploitation in general to become more and more ‘the norm’.

As violence begets violence, similarly, peace begets peace.  Surely all mature adults, especially parents, have a duty to learn and teach skills for the integration of personal peace. Surely we can all begin to focus on positive example, to teach by example and to become models who practice attitudes of response rather than reaction.  Only then, little by little, will society be enabled to meet the ups and downs of life through creative and positive ways of resolution.

Established in 1981, the International Day of Peace is observed each year on 21st September.

wakeupforpeace2A couple of weeks ago on that morning in Melbourne I was invited to be one of 21 ‘guest meditators’ drawn from a range of occupations, cultures and faith systems, to participate in “Wake up for Peace”.  This impeccably organised event included a nod to the olive branch by wearing the olive green ribbon, gentle music and the lighting of individual candles by each of us guests.  Our role then was simply to participate in a gentle meditation, sitting together and holding some several hundred other participants in 30 minutes quiescence.   The calm was palpable within the beautiful tree flanked Deakin Edge at Federation Square, the hub of the city.   Bathed in the warmth of natural timber and sunlight through the glass, this was one of my most precious meditation experiences and a profound experience of unity.   As part of formal conclusion, there followed a symbolic moment when 20 white doves were released from their pretty cages to fly free into the morning air.

Later as I walked through the city, someone I’d never met before approached me and simply said ‘thank you for this morning’.  I felt really moved to have been recognised from among the crowd and glad that she took the trouble to express the very thing intended – that we can work together, care for each other and reduce conflict to bring peace to the wider world.

The practice of meditation, its gifts, strengths and many other benefits is one powerful way to develop and maintain personal peace and ultimately, personal contentment.

And look at the contagious happiness that occurs when we’re more content!   One of the ‘flip sides’ of meditation and another valuable avenue that engenders peace is the joy of music.  Just this weekend with a group of friends, we were treated to magnificent entertainment by the B# Big Band, headed by Henry and his musicians and vocalists.  A regular event well worth pursuing in Melbourne B# is all about the best of 30s, 40s and 50s swing.   Even more importantly, the proceeds on this occasion were directed to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, a wonderful tribute where fun and compassion met for a very worthy cause.  The environment of music, food, wine and dancing enjoyed by a wide range of generations absolutely pulsed with happiness through the entire afternoon.  Smiles, laughter and rhythm abounded as the great Benny Goodman classic, Sing Sing finally coaxed us back to the life beyond.

Let’s all aim to master the skills, seek the occasions, do whatever it takes to join together in finding your peace, our peace and ultimately world peace.

Pauline McKinnon ©
October 2015, Melbourne