Category: Politics (page 1 of 2)

Peace at Christmas

Peace Reflections

I saw a meme on Facebook that got me thinking about peace in this season of Christmas. It was promoting some political ideology by using the image of Nazi oppression. The photo is very powerful showing a naked Jewish woman caressing her naked child before they both were executed by the Nazis.

 

I tried researching the origins of this picture, but have been unable to verify its validity or what the exact details of the photo are, regardless the image is burned into my psyche.

 

When I saw this picture, I thought of my own wife and my children. I thought about how sad and tragic it was that this beautiful human being and her child had to endure such horrific circumstances. Then I thought about the world we live in today and wondered could something like this happen today?

 

My initial response is that I hope not, but, anything is possible. Human beings are capable of great acts of charity and kindness and we are also capable of great acts of terror and depravity. Ignorance and fear are powerful weapons that can turn a peaceful society into a barbaric horde.

Fear Does Not Equal Peace or Oppression Does Not Equal Freedom

Considering our current society’s fear of minorities and Muslims, I think the possibility of this happening again is not so farfetched. Our politicians use fear to keep unjust wars going and justify oppression as an excuse for protecting freedom (a bit ironic). We see the brutality of police officers and members of the military and most people make excuses for it. They excuse the killing of innocent civilians and get cheered on by the masses who have been taught fear and hatred in the name of patriotic nationalism.

 

Christmas should be a time of peace. A time when we reflect on how we treat each other and look for common interest to bring us together. We should be wary of those who call for violence and oppression to protect freedom. We should always look for ways to avoid violence and have empathy for others.

Christmas Time Reflection

At this time of year as you spend time with loved ones, hold onto and cherish your time together, but at the same time think of people throughout the world who aren’t blessed with the prosperity and peace that we enjoy. Think about those who live in hunger and fear. Think about the countries that have been made poorer and less safe due to the ravages of war. Then look yourself in the mirror and ask what you have done to stop it.

 

Peace cannot exist without people who are willing to stand against the merchants of death, the profiteers of war. We must all be one voice and call for an end to violence as a means of solving problems or pushing political agendas.

Love is Universal

Love the children of the world as you love your own children. Be as concerned for the well-being of all humans around the world as you are concerned about the well-being of people in your own neighborhood. Practice peace throughout the year not just for one month, week, or day.

How can we Create a More Peaceful World Amid Divergent Opinions?

LuMaxArt_Human_Family_with_World_Religions

Is it possible to have peace in the world when there are so many ways to approach life, faith, societal organization, human interaction, and political opinion?

We must begin with the realization that life is not, nor will it ever be perfect. We cannot keep everybody safe and free from harm. We cannot make every interaction completely fair. We cannot guarantee equal opportunity for all.

People are born with different levels of intelligence and ability. Some people are born to wealthy families and some to poor families. Some people are born in places with plentiful resources and others are born in areas of scarce valuable resources.

No matter how many laws we pass we cannot solve all the problems of the world. And in passing laws we are merely forcing one group’s opinions on another group of people. In the absence of consent, the only way we can enforce laws is through the use of force.

We have been taught to believe that we must coerce our fellow human beings to create a just and peaceful world, but if you look around our society we have done very little to create justice, peace, and prosperity merely through the passing of laws. True peace only comes about when people are allowed to express their opinions free of the threat of violence and humans live together in a society of free and mutual interaction, where people are allowed to associated as they would choose.

No amount of laws will take away the flaws of human beings. We can at times be selfish, conceited, gluttonous, and self-serving. At the same times we can be giving, loving, selfless, compassionate, and peaceful. As a species we tend to engage in those activities that are being promoted in the society at large.

As individuals we can choose to act in ways that are contrary to the society at large. We can practice those habits that bring peace to the world and in so doing create an example for others that can grow to create larger and larger pockets of peace.

The things that others say and think should not be a threat to us. We should be tolerant of all speech even speech we don’t agree with. The things people say only have power to the degree we give their words power. We can choose to either engage others, to try to find common ground, or choose to simply walk away allowing others to believe what they wish.

It is when we find the need to silence the opinions of others, or to force our own opinions on others that we create disharmony in the world. It is because of our own egos and hubris that we find ourselves unable to tolerate dissenting opinions.

We need to look ourselves in the mirror to find the problem in us, not the fault in the other person, when we feel the need to force others to consent or be silent.

Words are just words unless they are turned to action. If, and only if force is being used to get others to accept the thoughts and ideas of others, then it is acceptable to respond with force to protect oneself and one’s property.

Peace is possible only if we let go of our preconceived notions and our own egos allowing others to live as they choose without feeling the need to force them to live as we choose. Tolerance is not an acceptance of other people’s opinions, but merely the acceptance that they have the right to express their opinions.

If instead of reacting and responding to every opinion that conflicts with our own, we instead chose to remain silent and remain disengaged from conflict, we would find that the world would continue on unchanged from its previous course.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t engage in discourse with others. Where there is the possibility of understanding and cooperative interaction we should always seek to engage others. But if our goal is merely to silence others and make our voice louder then we should choose silence.

Take some time today to examine your beliefs. Are their ideas in the world that create anger and anxiety in you that you find yourself unproductively engaging in? What would happen if you just ignored those voices that you cannot find common ground with? Are you confident enough to allow others to express opinions you do not agree with? Are you willing to do your part to creating a more peaceful world?

How Can Peace Flourish Where War Prevails?

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Are we as a nation any better than the terrorists we claim to be fighting against? How can we as a nation claim moral superiority when we use our military to occupy countries, overthrow governments, and fund immoral regimes around the globe? How can we claim to be better than the terrorists when our actions have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people around the globe through our military invasions and immoral assassination program conducted through the use of drones?

As a country we have become morally bankrupt.  We are no better than the groups we wage war against. Our actions instead of making us safer create more aggression and violence to spread across the globe. The more innocent people we kill, the more governments we overthrow, the more death and destruction we spread throughout the world, the more we will have to deal with the consequences of our actions.

Peace cannot be won through arms. It cannot be gained by dropping bombs. Peace is its own end. It comes about by practicing peace.

After 14 years of war in the middle east are we any safer? We are less free. We have sacrificed everything that has made our country great for a false security that could never be guaranteed. On top of that our government has committed atrocities as bad, if not worse, than any terrorist group anywhere in the world. If you add up all the innocent people who have been killed in the U.S. led war on terror it far outnumbers the people killed in all terror attacks throughout the world combined.

According to a report done by Truth in Media, http://truthinmedia.com/report-at-least-1-3-million-people-killed-in-us-war-on-terror/, the total number of human beings killed in the war on terror from 2003 to 2013 is estimated conservatively at 1.3 million souls. Of this 48,504 Pakistani civilians, non-combatants, have been killed. This data can also be found in a report issued by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/body-count.pdf.

Meanwhile only 3,006 Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks from 9/11/2001 to 12/31/2014, http://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_AmericanTerrorismDeaths_FactSheet_Oct2015.pdf.

So are we so surprised when a terror attack happens given the disproportionate number of deaths caused by U.S. foreign policy when contrasted with terror attacks against Americans?

I am not trying to minimize the death of any American as all life is important, and being an American I wish nothing but the best for my fellow citizens. But why is it that the lives of citizens of other countries matter as much as our own? Why is it alright for us to invade, bomb, and kill other people for revenge and then we become incensed when others do the same, and to a much smaller scale.

We must face the fact that we are a nation of hypocrites. We have been lied into supporting war and killing. We must face the fact that violence begets violence and that the only way to attain peace is to start practicing it. We need to demand that our elected officials start working for peace. We need to deny the profiteers of war their profits. It is time to take our country back by voting out anybody who supports war.

We can have a strong defense at home and protect our citizens without flying our troops all over the world and invading other countries and creating perpetual wars. We can have peaceful relations with the Middle East by leaving them alone. The only people who benefit from unrest in the Middle East are the war merchants and the oil tycoons. Everybody else come out losers.

The people in the Middle East lose as their peace and way of life is destroyed by the U.S. military and the warlords that they prop up as they rob them of their natural resources to enrich the large multinational corporations that fund the whole operation.

The U.S. public loses as we give up our liberties and freedoms for a false sense of security. We also lose by bankrupting our future and the future of our children piling up enormous amounts of debt funding endless and unnecessary wars.

The world overall is poorer as relations between nations become strained, trade is closed off, and the environment is destroyed by the polluting giant that is the U.S. war machine.

War is not the answer to the world’s problems. It cannot make us safe but it can make us poorer and less free. Peace is only possible when we are acting in a peaceful manner. War can never achieve peace. Every life matters whether white or black; Christian, Jew, or Muslim; American, French, Iraqi, or Iranian. The number of lives killed doesn’t matter only that lives were lost. When will we realize that peace can only be achieved when we decide to act peacefully?

On Seeking Understanding

The world is imperfect. Nothing is guaranteed in life. We can get as angry as we want when life doesn’t go our way, but we cannot control the circumstances that life gives us. We can only control what we think, how we act, and how we react to what life gives us. We cannot pass laws to make life what we want and force others to think the way we want them to think without creating division and animosity.

Dale Carnegie in his books “How to Win Friends & Influence People” lays out a great blueprint for influencing others, not through force, but through humility and understanding. In today’s world we would rather force others to act and believe as we think they should, rather than taking responsibility for our own actions and using influence to bring about the world we wish to live in.

In our modern society where technology allows us to shut out any opinion we don’t agree with and gives us the ability to seek out only those sources of opinion that echo our own beliefs, we have lost the ability to see life through a differing lens. We fail to see things from different perspectives and have compassion and understanding.

Having compassion and understanding for other perspectives does not mean agreeing with, or accepting them uncritically. It means that we seek to understand opinions different than our own so that we can find common ground that we can then use to move forward.

We are all human beings. We all want to be happy and not suffer. We all want to be comfortable and feel a sense of self-worth and meaning in our lives. Most people have the best of intentions in what they do and what they believe. There are few truly evil people in the world.

If we kept these truths at the front of our minds when dealing with other people and engaging in discussions with others, it would allow us to have more compassion and empathy for those we disagree with. It would allow us to recognize the commonality we share and find ways to move forward on common goals, rather than coming into conflict and creating yet more distance and distraction in our society.

What makes our world a wonderful and interesting place is the fact that there are very few right ways to get things done. There is a myriad of different right ways to accomplish a goal and no one person has all the right answers. The human experience is rich because of the diversity of opinions and ideas. If we only took the time, not to accept or force, but to understand and find common ground we would find the world more peaceful, and our experience with it much more enjoyable.

Next time you find yourself in conflict with someone try the following:
1) Don’t argue – yes you have a choice.
2) Seek to understand – just stop and listen.
3) Consider thoughtfully the other persons point of view before responding.
4) Respond first to areas of common interest.
5) Present your point of view in a non-threatening way.
6) Agree to move forward where there is commonality and allow disagreements to be set aside.

Community Happens Where you Live

What does community mean to you? Is it an abstract concept that occurs through the efforts of other people? Is it a product of government and laws passed far from where you live? How do we define community and how do we live as a community?

I was thinking about these questions as I was trick or treating with my kids this weekend. I thought about how lucky I was to live is such a safe and peaceful community where I can let me kids play outside with little supervision and not have to worry about whether they would be safe or not.

I don’t have to worry about my children being shot at in the front yard, or being kidnapped, or having an explosive device go off and kill them.

Do I thank the troops that I live in a safe community? Do I thank the police or the firemen? Do I thank some government bureaucrat?

The truth is that none of these people are really responsible for whether my community is a good, safe place. We are responsible for that, each and every individual. By having respect for ourselves, and our neighbors, by watching out for each other we make our communities what they are. And when our communities are bad, and unsafe, then it is individuals who are responsible for that too.

Community doesn’t happen because of what occurs in Washington D.C. or even in our state capitals. Community is what happens where we live because of the people who live in that community. And it is up to each of us to make our communities safe places. No bureaucrat hundreds or thousands of miles away can know what is in the best interest of every person in every community. Each community is as unique as the individuals that make up that community.

What is good for me and my community may not be good for urban Chicago, or rural Oklahoma. And what is good for Washington D.C. and all its politicians, lobbyists, and special interests is generally not good for anybody but them.

Most policemen, soldiers, and firefighters are good and honest people, but they are not community, nor are they the only ones who can make a community free, safe, and prosperous. They are merely members of the community – no better, no worse, they are merely human beings doing their jobs the same as the rest of us.

We all have a responsibility to ourselves, those we love, and our neighbors to do our best to create vibrant, safe, and prosperous communities. We need to look to make a difference within our communities and find solutions to our own problems instead of letting people who do not know what is in our best interest make decisions for us.

We need to be the change we wish to see. We need to be good neighbors. We need to be good community citizens. It all begins right here, right now, where we live. And if we can make our own communities good, prosperous, and safe, we can be an example to other communities.

Community begins where you live. It begins with the things you do and your participation in the community you live in. If you want a nice community to leave it to someone else. Take action where you live right here and now.

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