Maybe one day this world will do conflict well.
Maybe one day we will be able to accept and respect all views that are not our own, while still standing strong in our own values.
Maybe one day we’ll know what it really means to be at peace.
Clearly, the human species struggles with solving conflict in a harmless way. We are so quick to speak harsh words or land our hands heavily when anger runs through our veins. We’re quick to take a simple conflict and turn it into a full-fledged war.
We’ve been fighting for so long that we think it’s permanent to the human condition. When I speak publically of world peace, I’m often met with a devil’s advocate who argues violence and oppressive behaviour are integral human traits.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I can accept the truth of where we stand, but I refuse to accept that we cannot one day meet each other in peace. Maintaining this violent and turbulent approach to conflict is a waste of our human potential. We are here to seek understanding and evolve.
I’ve come to realize this: Accepting our opponent’s views is actually the first step to finding the peace we so desparately seek.
As soon as I came to a place of full acceptance of my present situation, like the breakdown of my most recent relationship, I felt a sense of peace wash over my being. I learned to honor my past partner’s view on why he felt he couldn’t be with me anymore. Though still painful at times, my experience of acknowledging the truth was ultimately a relief.
No, we don’t see things the same way. We want different things. But we don’t have to fight to move on. Fighting would only bring more turmoil and pain. My path to peace may not look the same as his, but they could be the right paths for us individually.
This approach can be taken a step further in response to victims of abuse.
If we can look at all people (even murderer’s, rapists, and child abusers) as innocent souls trapped in a cycle of internal suffering, we can free ourselves from victimhood and start the journey of collective healing.
I was sexually assaulted early in life. Although this was an incredibly painful experience, I was able to forgive the perpetrator. I realized I don’t know his childhood experiences or the conditioning that made him act this way. What I do know is that only a person who is deeply hurting could treat another human being like he did.
I believe each child was born into this world as an innocent, loving being. Only through lack of love, experienced trauma, and learned patterns of abusive behavior do humans continue the cycle of abuse they personally experienced.
I found forgiveness and peace within myself because I know there must be many more layers to my attacker’s story that led to his actions. I believe this is true for all acts of violence, abuse, and suffering.
By no means do I condemn violent or abusive behaviour. What I am saying is we need to understand how the ones who perpetuate conflict have a very different experience of the world. Trauma shaped who they are. We need to recognize how our societal cycles have kept these violent, abusive behaviors alive .
Not only should we focus our attention on healing of the victims of violent acts, we also need to focus our attention on healing of the current perpetrators, who were likely at one time a victim themselves.
The collective human species, I make a request. Next time we feel wronged, let’s choose to respond in fullness to what that act shows us about the state of our society and consider the complex personal history of the person who wronged us.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can change our own actions to better the lives of future generations. Let’s choose a new way and do so with the understanding that, ultimately, we all want to feel whole, loved, and nurtured.
This is the true way to peace.
Author: Morgan Leigh Callison
Image: Wikipedia Commons
Editor: Danielle Beutell