As I’ve listened to the news these past several weeks, I contemplate how to respond, both personally and publicly. My first instinct is anger. Righteous, roaring anger at all of the death, the injustice, the hate that has previously seemed to brew just under the surface and is now exploding out everywhere and in everyone.
Then my feelings turn to fear. Anxious, brooding fear that no one is safe in any part of the world. No one of any color, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation or age. Not even my own innocent young children, who I know are affected by the upheaval in this world. Even without directly consuming the news, I see it in their eyes, in their anxiety, in their fears of attending public events—including those promoting peace and unity. Despite my efforts to teach them otherwise, their understanding of the world is that even people who gather together may well be slaughtered.
Then I feel a deep sadness. For all the families who have experienced insufferable loss, for the parents and children who will never come home again, for the communities who feel hopeless and angry and tired of simply surviving, for the loss of innocence of our children who watch their future destroying itself daily.
And then hopelessness sets in…fighting seems to be the only way people know how to deal with all the frustration, yet it doesn’t seem to help any more than complacency. People continue to die, people continue to blame, people continue to be angry, fearful and dejected—understandably so.
I don’t believe for one second that all these seemingly disparate events are not connected to each other. The circumstances and motives, even the countries where they take place, may be radically different, yet to me they are all rooted in our collective pain, in our inherent distrust in each other and in the systems in place to support and protect us, in our lack of true understanding of connection to each other. I can feel it, this energy of unrest and uncertain future, just as my children can feel it. I can sense the energy of change and cataclysm and hope and despair and souls just trying to hang on. And it doesn’t matter anymore who or what caused it; blame only exacerbates the wound.
Yet what can I really do? What will make a difference in this vast, seemingly global catastrophe of violence?
I want to be angry. I want to be fearful. I want to cry a thousand tears—and I will do all of those things. But I will not stay hopeless. And I will not fight against what I don’t want this world to be. Instead, I will continue to rally around the belief that peace can exist and love does win, even in the face of great pain. Not a holding hands, we all love each other, “kum-ba-ya” kind of love and peace. We’re still some time off from that, I’m afraid, though many of us embrace that.
Rather, I mean tapping into that inner space inside where love always lives, no matter what happens on the outside. That place in us that exists even when we feel angry, fearful, sad, hopeless or hateful. That place gives me hope. The place that reminds me that I’m not alone. And it lights the path, not just for me, but for each one of us—the warriors of peace.
It’s a new time, a new era
Where peace is an inside job
It cannot be bought or fought
Indeed, it comes from leveling up
The inner sanctuary of the mind,
From armoring the soul with love
Rather than swords,
Sourced in the transference of love
To all beings
Through those with the loudest voices
And the willingness to be heard,
To be seen
Shine your lights brightly
Warriors of peace!
Show the world a different way to be
Amidst this turmoil, this violence
This unholy fog in the face of great evils
Let the world know
That love is always the way home
We will not fight for peace.
We will meditate for peace.
We will embrace for peace.
We will share for peace.
We will pray for peace.
We will grow for peace.
We will sing for peace.
We will make love for peace.
We will love for peace.
Author: Ashley Barnes
Apprentice Editor: Thayne Ulschmid; Editor: Yoli Ramazzina