The news is overwhelming these days. I can’t remember a time in my own life when so many stories of war and unrest were pouring in from so many parts of the world, simultaneously. It saddens and sickens me to hear the reports. Hundreds have died here. Thousands over there. This country is aligning with that one to defeat the one over there. Killing and more killing. Bloodshed and more bloodshed. An eye for an eye and the world is going blind.
I watched an interview last week in which a question was answered with a forceful and repeated, “The peaceful majority is irrelevant.” Her point was that, throughout history, it has always been a few extremists among a larger population who drove the machine of war. Therefore, it is the radical extremists who demand attention. Everyone else are just sheep – living their lives in the background.
I have been thinking about that for days. I disagreed at first, but maybe she’s right. Certainly our human race has shown that we, as a species, tend to produce more followers than leaders. So I would like to propose a new idea. Let us be radically peaceful.
When you boil it down, war is grown ups acting like toddlers.
Two children in a nursery will see a pretty new toy. They both want it. They will bite and kick and scream, cause injury to themselves and others and, intentionally or otherwise, destroy the toy before they let someone else have it.
A new classmate will show up at a preschool and be mocked, ridiculed, pushed aside or even physically attacked because he looks or acts differently – or just because he’s new.
One child will strike another for what seems to be no reason at all. The child who has been struck retaliates with even greater force.
Tell me how war is any different.
“It’s more complicated than that!”
Perhaps. Certainly when you look at a situation like the Middle East there is a tangled web of politics, religion, economics and injustice that reaches back into antiquity. It is complicated.
Strip that conflict, or any other, down to its very essence and you’ll find that it’s not so different from what is happening on the neighborhood playground.
“I want what you have.”
“You can’t be in our club.”
“She hit me first!”
When my children act like this, I’ve been known to step into the room and loudly exclaim, “ENOUGH! It ends right now!”
I suggest it is time for the peaceful majority to stop being irrelevant.
It is time for us to rise to our feet and loudly exclaim, “ENOUGH! It ends right now!” We must say something now, before one more life is lost to the madness. And we must back our words with acts of radical peacefulness.
What does that mean?
It means that each of us must care MORE about our neighbor’s needs than our own.
It means that we put the desires of others first.
It means that we listen… truly listen… to what those who believe differently than us are saying.
It means that we respect the right of those folks to make choices different from our own.
It means consistently, actively, consciously choosing to humble ourselves in the “little” ways as well as the “big.”
A person living in radical peacefulness won’t tailgate in order to prevent someone else from squeaking into traffic at the place where the lanes merge. They won’t debate with hurtful words and name calling. They won’t mock the failure of another. They won’t worry about accumulating their own wealth while their neighbor struggles to feed their family. They won’t ever, ever, EVER use the phrase, “That’s not fair,” in reference to their own situation. What is “fair” is not always what is right.
Will my being a considerate driver stop Russia from invading the Ukraine?
No. Obviously not. But what if that one little act leads to another. And another and another…. ripples spreading across a pond. What if my kindness causes someone else’s mood to lift. They become more kind. What if their kindness infects another and kindness begins to spread like a virus.
What if we really TRULY plant our feet and stand strong and turn the other cheek to those who have struck us?
What if our “small actions” as individuals begin to affect the actions and attitudes of the society in which we live? After all, how can we expect the world around us to be kind and loving if we are not willing to be part of shaping it as such?
I suggest such an act takes FAR more courage than going to war. I imagine radical peacefulness will take a force of will and strength that is enormous. But I believe it can be done. And that kind of strength is NOT irrelevant. That kind of kindness is NOT irrelevant. That kind of love is NOT irrelevant.
When we stop existing in a bland, self-absorbed, self-centered, day-to-day drudgery and start actively LIVING as members of an extraordinarily diverse and beautiful global community, the peaceful majority will no longer be irrelevant, but a force to be reckoned with. The power of war will pale by comparison.
Will you stand with me? Join the #RadicallyPeaceful revolution!
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!