I predict that today you will learn about some form of conflict in the world. This forecast seems to be a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Our culture exists within a sea of conflict, so naturally we will learn of a new instance of this phenomenon today.
Name your poison, it will be served up any way you want it. Did you check the daily scores of your favorite sport yet today? How did your team fare? Did they succeed or fail in their latest organized conflict? Perhaps you accessed the stock market data this morning. How are your investments doing? Have they done well in the competative market? Do I even have to ask about this year’s American election cycle? Of course we know about the weighty conflicts between various nations and religions.
Sure, these examples are easy to name, but there are those other conflicts that we harbor within our own minds. We have inner conflicts between what we hold as ideal and what we actually are. There is friction between our own concepts of self-control and freedom. Many of these conflicts have roots in our cultural expectations and our inate fears. The strongest of the concepts grow into ideologies, religions, and political factions. These concepts manifest as denominations, nations, and even sports teams.
The conflicts appear to be the symptoms of a feedback loop. A concept is formed in somebody’s mind. In turn, that concept is communicated to society, at large. The concept is either encouraged as a virtue or discouraged as a taboo. As the concept becomes familiar and encouraged, we reinforce it internally as well as culturally. As a result, we have a concept about what should be in conflict with what actually exists. It is the friction of the various concepts held by various people and within ourselves that we know as conflict.
None of this information is new. I only mention these things in order for us to remember some of the root causes of conflict. These things are the causes of our world deficit of peace. It is by looking at these concepts individually and collectively that we can begin to understand conflict, and it’s opposite, peace.
When we understand conflicts and our emotional reactions to them, we can begin to develop ourselves to bring on a more wise and humane world. We soon understand that the way to world peace is by practicing personal peace.
The way to personal peace is a process, not a technique. Personal peace is like a flower that needs nourishment to grow into a mature plant and then open up within the heart to feel understanding and compassion for oneself. As we witness this opening up, we may notice that we feel happiness and peacefulness in our minds. This feeling of peace allows us to objectively notice the conflicts that have been boiling within ourselves. As we become more honest about those conflicts, we become stronger and more compassionate towards ourselves. We create a new feedback loop.
The new understandings, strength, and compassion we enjoy, automatically affect our attitudes and behavior towards other people. You want others to enjoy freedom from conflict and enhanced happiness, too. In quiet moments, you reflect upon how your thoughts affect your actions toward others. We see that our happiness is increased as we resolve our inner conflicts, and in turn, the conflicts we have with other people.
We see that outer conflict resolution does not depend upon promulgating particular ideologies or belief systems because it is the act of promulgation that is at the heart of conflict. The very acts of promoting particular ideals have caused conflict throughout the ages.
When we become more accepting of who we are and who other people are, we ,gain more insight and understanding about what makes us and everyone “tick”.
It’s important to use this new outlook wisely so that we don’t become doormats or exhausted. We can see how the wise use of compassionate behavior towards ourselves and the people we know can work for the rest of the world.
As we know, the attainment of world peace is a very complex puzzle. Just as we require time and patience to resolve our own inner conflicts, we realize that world peace requires the work and compassion of millions of people.,
We know that our diligent efforts towards our own inner peace are reflected in how we treat those around us. As more people find conflict resolution within themselves, more peace with others is the result.
I’m not an airy fairy about the subject of world peace. As long as there are human beings on this planet, there will be conflicts within individuals and between people. Our political, ideological, religious, and other beliefs are deeply rooted. It is through acceptance, compassion, and personal conflict resolution that we encourage the inner peace that will rub off onto others.
When we practice loving-kindness towards ourselves and others, peace within ourselves and in the world becomes possible.