Personal Peace for World Peace

Personal peace for world peace – Within the family, between friends, across cultures 
My thoughts in this blog are especially with the Maslin family of Western Australia who lost their beautiful, treasured children and their children’s much loved grandfather in the recent horrific attack on flight MH17.   I have never read anything that moved me as greatly as the message from that family to the world.  That these wonderful people could so profoundly express graciousness, resilience and the power of love despite such unbearable pain; that they can still access their ability to pray; and that they are able to find some measure of solace within the care and company of others is the most poignant of all love stories.

My prayer for them is that they may perhaps, at a time still distant, be able to reclaim the gift of hope, that powerful presence that sustains the spirit and eventually restores personal peace. 

Thirteen years ago, following the world disaster known as 9/11, I initiated at this Centre what we called the Olive Green Ribbon project.  The following is adapted from what I wrote at that time.  In today’s troubled times we would like to reinvent the concept again.

The many tragedies within the world today and subsequent international insecurity have evoked the widespread emotions of shock, fear and the need for support.  Among our own citizens there is a palpable sense of uncertainty and malaise while the peoples of our world are desperately hurting across lands, cultures and within individual hearts.  But also, as a direct result of this suffering, it is not unusual to learn of numerous cases of reconciliation within families and between friends.  So it is possible to have good things arise from bad.

We believe it would be valuable to emphasise publicly this positive side to disaster, and to recognise that as ill feeling begins in small ways, so too can peaceful feelings flourish.  If, in a spirit of likeminded unity we can heal the misunderstandings and conflicts that lead to intolerance and division within our own relationships, perhaps eventually we can help heal those of the wider world.  From the small beginnings of personal peace, could it be possible to eventually prevent further harm?

The olive branch is a symbol of peace.  To promote world peace through personal peace, you may like to wear a knot of olive green ribbon as a reminder that one small peaceful gesture may grow to greater strengths.

If the idea appeals to you, please make some olive green knots of your own and pass them on to others with a copy of these thoughts.

Some months ago a friend sent me the following verse.  It’s a lovely exploration of simplicity and naturalness – and an example of the strength that can be gained from the practice of stillness which in turn will lead to personal peace.  I knew at the time that there would be a moment when I could share it more widely.  So in the spirit of our profession I offer this passage to the Maslin family and to all who have lost their loved ones and their peace because of this recent tragedy and because of so many other tragic situations throughout the world.  And I promise my personal prayers.  Let’s lift our hearts collectively to regain hope and optimism, personal peace and the pervasive power of love.

Ne plus penser à rien, c’est commencer à bien penser. Ne rien faire, c’est déjà faire un pas vers Dieu. ‘Rien’ est ce qui permet à la splendeur de descendre un jour sur les eaux d’un étang comme partout sur la terre ignorante.

To think of nothing is to begin to think well. To do nothing is to already take a step towards God. ‘Nothing’ is that which one day allows the splendor, the marvellous to descend upon the waters while all the world takes no notice.

Christian Bobin, French poet and writer