“Those were peaceful days….” We often hear and read such or similar statements made by men and women of distinction, as if peace was prevailing in our society in “those days”.
I, for one, would like to disagree with such an opinion. No, peace has never prevailed over violence except for brief intervals in human history. Keep your head cool and reread the history of our world, our so called “civilized world”, and you shall find each and every page of it written in blood, with blood.
Peace has always been a luxury.
The most civilized and religious amongst men of every age could kill just for any reason. For a piece of land, for a woman, for so called “honor”, for power – for anything and everything that one can imagine of. Yes, just anything could trigger a conflict, a fight, a battle, a war. And, the party that won would write history to suit their fancy. This has been going on for thousands of years.
Certainly, as I have said, there have been brief intervals – peaceful intervals. But, those intervals did not change our history. Indeed, after each interval, we became more and more violent. And, we reached the peak, the climax – when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “We” bombed those two cities. As the citizens of world, we all are responsible for those bombings. Equally responsible are the people of Japan, the residents of those two cities who did not object to their government’s aggressive policies. We all are guilty.
I said earlier that we reached our peak, our climax in violence with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings. But, we did not come down from the peak – there has been no coming down. In fact we set another standard for violence. The peak we reached marked a new standard in violence.
More than 3000 bloody conflicts, battles and wars in the past 2000 years of world history. And, until this date the world is still at war. There are conflicts in all continents. Not a single continent is completely free from violence.
The question is: What have we learnt from our past?
Perhaps “nothing”! No lesson learnt. Peace is still a Luxury. It is still a “once a blue moon” happening. Peace is still a dream, which remains to be realized.
* * *
What makes us different from our forefathers is the fact that, it is only now, today, that Peace is unfolding itself as the basic need of all humanity. We are becoming aware that it is no longer a luxury.
This awareness, this realization has been triggered by the fact that, today we have more ammunition than what is needed to destroy the entire world over and over. The Third World War may happen, as Einstein once remarked, but the Fourth shall never happen. Because, the Third World War, if it happens, will have destroyed the whole world in its entirety. Nothing of our world would possibly remain – none of us – so the question of Fourth World War would not arise. Perhaps then, only then, this world of ours could finally be peaceful – with no human populace, no animals and no vegetation surviving such a war.
Are we looking forward to such Peace?
Certainly not, so what do we do? Organizing and arranging for dialogues, interfaith and international dialogues? Such dialogues have been going on ever since the major religions of the world came in contact with each other. And, not much has been achieved.
In our colleges, the students are taught the science of “comparison”. They are busy in comparing truths of different religions. There too, nothing is happening.
And, nothing can ever happen if we do not dig deep into our own consciousness and find the root cause of violence. What is it that makes us violent? It is our “weakness”, a deep sense of “weakness” combined with “fear” – that makes us violent. We fear our existence; we fear the existence of our religions. It is a false sense of “survival” – that makes us violent.
We must overcome this fear, this weakness. We have to let go of this false sense of survival. How? We can certainly not do this, not achieve this through dialogue. Indeed dialogues may take us farther from the solution. For, the solution is within us. And, the dialogue is done outside, with others.
My weakness, my fear, my false sense of survival is “my” problem. It is not someone else’s problem. So, I cannot possibly solve this by initiating dialogue with someone.
Why am I feeling so weak and therefore helpless? Why do I feel as if the entire burden of defending religion lies on my shoulders? Why am I fearful about the existence of my religion and my belief? It is the sense of “I” and “mine” – that has created all our problems. By clinging to “individual egos” and false sense of pride – we forget the fact that this world, this universe is not run by my ego and such false sense of pride. We forget that there is a Higher Intelligence that takes care of one and all. Our faith in such Intelligence must be revived.
* * *
Talking about Peace, we cannot but talk about Religion. For, more than any other, religion or belief-system has often been the reason behind conflicts. This is as true today as it has been 2000 years back.
We must seriously consider this point. We can no longer ignore this point by stating that it is not the religion, but the practitioner that is guilty. In Indonesia we have even coined our own term, “oknum”. Oknum relates to “a specific practitioner”, “one of them”. We tend to forget that without religion, there is no practitioner. Indeed, it is the way a practitioner practices his or her religion – that becomes the identity for religion.
We must find out what is it in our religions and belief systems that can trigger the traits of violence within me. We must leave aside the contextual teachings of our religions, for each and every religion did answer the burning issues of the time…… And, learn to appreciate the universal values. These universal values are common in all religions. These universal values must be promoted, propagated and believed in as the quintessence of all religious teachings.
And, it is with this sense of appreciation that we must learn to study all religions. Such study, such learning should become part of our education system. It should be part of history that is taught universally. Right from their early years, our children must learn to honor the prophets and messiahs of all religions.
Religion must soothe our hearts, heal our wounds, and wash away enmities from our minds – otherwise its practice is of no use at all. Once this is achieved, religion can no longer be used to create conflict, discord and disharmony.
So, will Peace be possible then?
No, not yet. But at least, we would have removed one major hindrance in making it possible. With this hindrance taken care of, it will be easier for us to dig deeper into our beings and uproot violence.
Violence is a trait that we have inherited from a long evolution in the past. What I mean by evolution is certainly not just Darwinian Evolution, but Evolution of Human Mind and Intelligence, of Arts, History and Sciences.
We have been very violent in the past. But, ever since the Great War at the battlefield of Kurukshetra some 5000 years ago – we have not had the means to destroy this world as we have them now. So, we have been engaged in petty and regional acts of violence and destruction. Now, as I have said earlier, we have enough means to destroy this world over and over. So, now Peace is no longer a Luxury, that one may have and another may not. It is no longer an urgent and imperative issue for one country and not for another.
We have walked a long way from slavery to Independence – now the march is from Independence to Interdependence. We can no longer live as islands. Peace has become an urgent and imperative issue for all of us – if we want to save ourselves, our children and grandchildren, our nation, and this planet world.
Come out of your luxurious suits in expensive hotels…… Waste not a single cent to organize futile dialogues…… Stop comparing religions, reading out long papers and discussing theology. God, Theo is beyond all logic anyway. Leave all those mind-games.
Come out in the open….. Allow the sunrays of new awareness bathe your soul…… Find the traits of violence within, acknowledge them as such, as traits of violence, and uproot them. And at that very moment, you shall see the huge vast of Land of Peace within you – the New Jerusalem within you, the City of Peace within you. You will no longer fight over a Jerusalem, for you shall acquire the capability of turning this whole world into a Jerusalem, a New Jerusalem.
Saadhu, Amen, Amin, Om Shaanti, Shanti, Shaantihi…….
Peace, Peace, and Only Peace