Ask yourself, “What can I do, in this moment, to bring peace to this situation?”

Bring peace‑a way to find your­self in a ground­ed and whole man­ner. It means giv­ing up being right, among oth­er things. 

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Back in 1986, Dar­bel­la and I went on the arche­typ­i­cal Euro­pean Hol­i­day. We end­ed up spend­ing a good deal of time in Scot­land, tour­ing about, los­ing golf balls on dif­fi­cult cours­es, and vis­it­ing famous sites.

One of the more inter­est­ing side trips was up to the north of Scot­land, to the Find­horn Com­mu­ni­ty. Odd place. You dri­ve along one road, and there is a rail­road cross­ing. The arms came down, we stopped, and we were amazed to see a Har­ri­er jet cross in front of us. Seems the Roy­al Air Force has a base up there, and the land­ing path cross­es the road. Glad we stopped.

Find­horn was one of those 60s places where a bunch of hip­pies set­tled, and in their words, com­muned with the earth spir­its. Soon, their gar­dens over­flowed with huge cab­bages and oth­er crops, this on land that was most­ly sand. They’ve been teach­ing cours­es and hold­ing retreats ever since.

My first and most pop­u­lar book, This End­less Moment. Learn to live a full and sat­is­fy­ing life. 

A Course in Miracles and a New Approach

None, of this real­ly has any rel­e­vance to our top­ic, oth­er than that the title of this piece is a para­phrase of one of the key points in a book, A Course in Mir­a­cles (ACIM). I found the book in the Find­horn Book­store. Thus, Find­horn real­ly has noth­ing to do with the rest of the sto­ry, oth­er than to pro­vide a good intro.

Any­way, I would have to say that ACIM was the book that first opened my eyes to anoth­er way of look­ing at what we call real­i­ty. Sup­pos­ed­ly chan­neled to an athe­ist from Christ, the book presents a view of how the world works that became the basis for many of my lat­er understandings.

Noth­ing in the rather large book is rad­i­cal­ly new, and there are some points I dis­agree with. (For exam­ple, the book states that if one thinks some­thing is evil, one sim­ply mis­un­der­stands the sit­u­a­tion. The book has noth­ing to say regard­ing the Holo­caust, which, it seems to me, was not a mis­un­der­stand­ing, but rather evil incarnate.)

I’ve never been one to throw the baby out with the bath water, and I found that ¾ of the book made perfect sense.

ACIM makes it clear that all emo­tion­al dis­tress is self-cre­at­ed, as opposed to oth­er-cre­at­ed.
You might say that the mes­sage is: “if you don’t like the way some­thing is, change your view of the situation.”

Which pret­ty much match­es our under­stand­ing of things. To go back to the Holo­caust, we see this prin­ci­ple in oper­a­tion. The sit­u­a­tion was hor­rif­ic, and yet Vic­tor Fran­kl wrote Man’s Search for Mean­ing in Auschwitz. He thus took a uni­ver­sal­ly hor­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion and (for­give the pun) made it mean­ing­ful. The sit­u­a­tion does not ever dic­tate the result for the indi­vid­ual con­fronting it. Any­thing can come from anything.

The Goal of Bringing Peace

Sim­i­lar­ly, our present idea (tak­en from ACIM) is that there is always the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring peace to any sit­u­a­tion. Sit­u­a­tions are as they are, at what might be described as the objec­tive, or ‘data’ lev­el. What is hap­pen­ing is what is hap­pen­ing. The place where things go ‘south’ as at the sub­jec­tive lev­el of inter­pre­ta­tion.

Of course, we want to believe that events have intrin­sic meanings–that these mean­ings are obvious–and that the mean­ing I ascribe to a sit­u­a­tion is also the ‘true mean­ing.’ We get right indig­nant when oth­ers dis­agree with us as to this sub­jec­tive meaning.

All of us have been caught up in the dra­ma of try­ing to get oth­ers to change their minds and/or their mean­ings. We get so caught up in defen­sive­ness and argu­ment that we for­get that the sub­jec­tive is, by def­i­n­i­tion, also the personal.

How I view my real­i­ty is sole­ly and com­plete­ly a result of my upbring­ing, expe­ri­ences, and his­to­ry. The only authen­tic ques­tion is—is the way I am inter­pret­ing my real­i­ty help­ing or hurt­ing me? If my inter­pre­ta­tion is hurt-filled, I can con­tin­ue to try to force the world to see it my way, or I can bring peace.

To bring peace is not giv­ing up, sur­ren­der­ing, admit­ting fault, or wimp­ing out. Let me toss out a few names: Gand­hi, Mar­tin Luther King, Moth­er There­sa. Not exact­ly wimps. Peo­ple with strong opin­ions, goals, aims. Yet, their method was sim­i­lar. Into extra­or­di­nar­i­ly dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, they brought peace. Not com­pro­mise. Just a firm con­vic­tion that one could be peace­ful while at the same time chang­ing the course of history.

Our personal lives are precisely as torment-filled as we torment ourselves.

In Steven King’s Lisey’s Sto­ry, a char­ac­ter says some­thing like: “90% of the things peo­ple think about are none of their smuck­ing busi­ness.” The point is that we spend inor­di­nate time in our heads mak­ing trou­ble for our­selves over things we can either do noth­ing about, or which are not our busi­ness in the first place.

Peace, on the oth­er hand, begins with allow­ing sit­u­a­tions to be sit­u­a­tions, and allow­ing oth­ers to hold their beliefs with­out the demand that they change.

Rather, I simply engage in what I can control—my interpretations, and especially my actions.

It does me no good to demand that oth­ers com­mu­ni­cate ele­gant­ly and truth­ful­ly. All I can do is to com­mu­ni­cate ele­gant­ly and truth­ful­ly. It does me no good to preach non-vio­lence, and then yell at oth­ers, or, heav­en for­bid, use phys­i­cal force unnecessarily. 

I remem­ber once walk­ing through a mall. A moth­er was shak­ing her eight-year-old, scream­ing at him, “How many times have I told you not to yell at and hit your sis­ter?” I can’t for the life of me, fig­ure out where he learned to do that…

Excuses, Excuses…

Many are the excuses. 

I was abused as a child.”
“I speak direct­ly and hon­est­ly. I only lose it when he’s being a jerk.”
“My dad had a bad tem­per.”
“I can’t let peo­ple walk all over me.”

Instead of excus­es, bring peace. Speak clear­ly and act in a dis­ci­plined way. Tell your truth with­out demand­ing that oth­ers agree with you. Act so that your words match with your actions, and move for­ward so that you sense your own integrity.

This is not back­ing down. This is claim­ing your sto­ry, your truth, and your path as your own, and sim­ply and peace­ful­ly walk­ing it.

Notice how you block your­self from walk­ing your own peace­ful, impact­ful path—by blam­ing, fight­ing, demand­ing. Open your­self to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of liv­ing your life free of the need to force oth­ers, manip­u­late oth­ers, or seek the per­mis­sion of oth­ers. Find and walk your path, in peace and with integri­ty. In the end, it is all any of us can do.

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