“Let’s envision what we could accomplish if we were willing to see each other through the eyes of love.” ~ Cheryl Melody Baskin, from the book, Peace Dreamer: A Journey of Hope in Bad Times and Good
Even though I’ve lived in my town since 1986, I don’t know most of my neighbors.
It’s no one’s fault. I write my books and songs in solitude and that’s the tradeoff.
A few months ago, something inside me shifted. I didn’t want to be as reclusive as usual. I wanted to meet the people around me and in my town.
Coincidentally, new neighbors had just moved next door to us. My husband and I walked over, shyly knocked on their door, presented them with beautiful flowers, and greeted them warmly. It felt good to meet new people and try on new behavior.
From the moment our eyes met, I could feel my neighbor’s loving heart and I knew that she felt mine. A few weeks ago, she surprised me by bringing over homemade Mideastern food and a beautiful flower arrangement.
Every time we see each other, a giant heart of love pulsates between us. I truly love her. She embodies love in her warm eyes, kind face, speaking voice, and positive energy field.
I don’t know any specifics about their family of origin. I know we are of different ethnicities and religions, but that’s all I know. In fact, that’s all I want to know.
If we go beyond the natural love that we feel for each other and move it into the world of words, thoughts, judgments, biases, and questions, there is a possibility of mucking up our beautiful exchange from the heart and to the heart.
There may be one too many touchy questions, irrational judgments, emotional triggers, unfair assumptions, and the darkness of bias and prejudice handed down by generations of brainwashing and heart-wrenching experiences.
My gut tells me that their roots are Mideastern. Although I’m ecumenical in my beliefs, my roots are Jewish. That said, I stand by the words I wrote in my “One Planet” song. “We’re all one people, all one global nation, all one planet, together we can live.
Listen to “One Planet” here.
Deep down I’m a little worried. How do they feel about what happened to innocent Israelis on October 7, 2023? How do they about Hamas? Israelis? Al Jazeera? Jews? Zionists? A two-state solution for Palestinians? How do they feel about the way Palestinians have been treated by Israelis for over 70 years? How do they feel about the Israeli bombs and rockets on Gaza and the horrendous displacement of Gazans from their homes? How do they feel about Hamas using Palestinians, their own people, as human shields? How do they feel about two genocides? How do they feel about the Holocaust and the possibility of another Holocaust? How do they feel about all extremist groups?
How do I feel? Heartbroken for Israelis. Heartbroken for Gazans. Just plain heartbroken. No words. Only sick to my stomach emotions.
Can my beautiful neighbor and I keep our hearts open to each other, no matter what? If we talked about all this someday, would the fourth chakra heart space suddenly close tight between us?
Peace Begins with Me.
I am heartbroken for everyone. Every mother, father, child, grandchild, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, cousin, and friend from every ethnicity, and the only grounding tool that gives me sanity is to remember that “Peace Begins with Me.”
If you are heartbroken and in chaos over what has happened since October 7, 2023, as well as what has happened before and before that and before that, as well as what’s happening in Ukraine, return to these grounding tools amid all the senseless hatred and chaos.
There are times when there is little we can do to solve a problem of this magnitude, but if we can remember to return to the definition of Peace Begins with Me, it will remind us that peace and war are not about the world out there somewhere.
It is about you and me. Every word, thought, feeling, action and reaction.
We need to become the peace we are waiting for. The kindness, generosity, the flowers of peace brought to someone’s home unexpectedly, the love. We need to be love, shine love, and stand for love.
Just one person by one person by one person by one person raises the vibration in our world. Everything we do to change the story of our one humanity counts. It’s a drop in the bucket that multiplies.
Centering Tools for Inner Peace.
>> Close your eyes, stop the world, put your hand on your heart, and simply breathe. It’s a self-care strategy that many of us dismiss, but it works. It connects us to our body, heart, and universe. The most effective “peace begins with me” ideas are the purest ones. Return to this technique many times a day.
>> During times of war and times of peace, remember to nurture yourself. Envisioning peace amid hatred and violence takes stamina.
>> Immerse yourself in nature as often as possible.
>> Keep your body moving. Distract yourself from your heavy heart or you will be eaten up alive. Put on relaxing music, close your eyes, and dance and cry to what you are feeling. Put on energizing music and dance to what you are feeling and to what could be possible.
>> Imagine what it would look like and feel like if we had a world of peace. Pray, meditate, and send positive thought-transference images and thoughts of peace outward.
>> See the world as you would like it to be, and on a daily basis, be it. Be the heart of kindness, the purity of unconditional love, and continue to believe in the goodness of people.
>> Pray in your own way.
>> Write all your feelings and thoughts down in a journal.
>> Keep envisioning peace, no matter what.
>> Create, draw, write, sing, and translate your feelings into something that tells your story.
>> Be mindful. If you are in a whirlwind of negativity, stop yourself from judging yourself and stop yourself from judging others. Just as “love is love is love,” it is true that “hurt is hurt is hurt.”
>> Create power words, mantras, and positive affirmations to replace toxic negativity.
I am a beacon of light and sparkling energy.
I see life as a wondrous miracle.
I am the spirit of joy.
Every moment is a new opportunity for rebirth.
Through love all things are possible.
It is safe for me to love and be loved.
Remember that everyone’s heart beats in the same way. Pain is the same and wanting love is the same.
As Ram Dass said, “You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. No one could take this love away from you and it will always be there.
Racism and all prejudiced leanings are ingrained and learned across generations, but changes in human consciousness are always possible at any given moment. Everyone has the power to shift, grow, and transform.
What my beautiful neighbor and I have right now is special. When we see each other, we feel one truth. Loving hearts. And that is where I want it to stay. Only in heart-focused conversation. Only seeing each other through the lens of love.
I don’t want to talk about politics, Israel, Palestine, Hamas, genocide, or which side we are on. I only want us to see each other through the eyes of love. And when and if we do have these hard conversations, I still want to see each other through the eyes of love.
I have never understood prejudice from the time I was seven years old, and I don’t understand it now. It’s a harsh world to live in when you feel strongly about the irrationality of bias and that is why it is so important to keep this relationship viewed only from the heart and to the heart. Even when we get into the deeper discussions. Especially then.
All I know is that I feel her heart and she feels mine, and that’s all that matters. We don’t need anything else. No words. No politics. No, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Just one heart to the other, and remembering that “Peace Begins with Me.”
My overall message is to ask you to try to keep your heart open to those who are different from you and invite love into your energy field. Shine your light and become the heart of peace. Do your part to bring more love into the world.
Never give up on your vision for peace on earth and good will to all humankind.
“Despite all the chaos, point your North Star toward peace, love, justice, unity, forgiveness, integrity, empathy, truth, kindness, compassion, and hope. We can only control what we can control. Stay the course. Know that you are making a positive difference.” ~ from the book, Peace Dreamer: A Journey of Hope in Bad Times and Good