As I go through my studies, learning about the world and the peace and conflict that exists on different levels, and even as travel through my own life’s little challenges, I find I coming back to one question: HOW CAN I FIND PEACE?
Is peace something that CAN be “found”? Does it already exist, sitting there waiting to be uncovered? Or is it, like happiness, A CHOICE we must make? Is it a choice I can make myself, or do we ALL have to make it in order for me to experience it not only inside myself, but in the reality that I live inside?
In less than two months I will apparently be a “MASTER” of this Peace and Conflict stuff – so what next? How am I going to apply the things I’ve learned to help our conflict-ridden world?
One thing I have learned in my studies is that the conflict that occurs between nations is not so dissimilar to the conflict that occurs between individuals. Even the conflicts that occur within an individual: between different sides of our brains, or between our minds and bodies – conflict in itself surrounds us in every aspect of our existence. But is conflict a bad thing? NO – NOT AT ALL. It is actually a matter of conflict resolution that determines this normative aspect. A NON-VIOLENT resolution to conflict is all that really matters – that is, PREVENTING the VIOLENT CONSEQUENCES of conflict, not preventing the conflict itself.
My research and contemplation presently points towards a kind-of shift in perspective. A shift from seeing ourselves as beings isolated in our particular point in time – to seeing ourselves as part of a much bigger picture of the history of our universe. I feel like this is the first step to peace because it provides us a deeper level of understanding of ourselves and the purpose for our existence.
When you contemplate your location in the universe: a tiny little spec amongst an infinite space and infinite time, it is both humbling and empowering. We may be small, but we do exist, and we actually have an understanding of this existence. Even if it is a limited understanding, the technology that has allowed us to travel and research in outer space, and deep inside quantum atoms – we have a better understanding than any other species in any other recorded evidence of history.
No matter what your religion, culture, political ideology, job, or values – I think this perspective adds something to your life.
And from this perspective comes a recognition of two things:
1. Your connectedness with ALL OF HUMANITY – no matter how separated by geographical location our ancestors were in the past, and no matter how different the world-views they developed – we all exist today on the same planet and in the same snapshot in time. In the globalised state of our time, our coexistence is even more interdependent than ever before. We have the power to love or hate each other, to appreciate or despise our differences, and to create a world of harmony or blow each other up. I think a macro perspective entices us to comprehend each other’s worldviews in the context of their histories, see where the common roots exist, and how we can learn from each other’s journeys and cherish the evolution of such differences. It allows us to plan our future: what we want to do with our unique consciousness and awareness.
2. Your connectedness with OUR PLANET and OUR UNIVERSE / GOD – no matter what your religion, no matter how you define “God”, and the human characteristics you give “Him”, it is impossible to ignore the intrinsic connection between our existence and all life on earth and all the energies outside our earth from the atmosphere that protects us to our earth’s relationship with our sun, galaxy and universe.
What I think this makes us realise is that:
1. The happier and more peaceful we can help other humans to be, the happier and more peaceful world we will live in, and the happier and more peaceful our own lives will be. Finding a way to avoid a “Clash of Civilisations” is essential to the continuance of our species and for our children to live in a world of peace.
2. The only way to continue existence is to change our lifestyle to one that does not destroy our earth. In the last 100 years we have exploited our planet in horrific ways and created lifestyles that cannot be sustained if we want our children to continue to live on this planet. At the moment the more developed nations continue to live frivolous lifestyles and as China and India follow our example (as they have the right to do) we must realise that if we continue in this way we really are doomed. If we are going to find solutions, it starts with YOU AND ME – finding lifestyles that can be sustained in the future, investing in sustainable sources of energy, and investing all we can to think ahead, solve problems, and stop our destructive ways.
Solar energy may provide us with less energy than what we are used to but is it not possible to work a few less hours, value time instead of money and material consumption. Would it really be so bad to eat a little less and be a little skinnier? Would it be so bad to play guitar and sing songs by candlelight rather than watching so much TV???
THERE ARE SOLUTIONS – WE JUST HAVE TO THINK OUTSIDE THE SQUARE!
How do we truly grasp this MACRO and MICRO perspective of our existence? I think “BIG HISTORY” is one way – that is, mapping out history in a grand narrative of everything we know put on one time line. Combined with mapping the different perspectives, identifying the gaps, and being aware of the assumptions and limitations of this narrative. It’s kind of a combination of a Post-modernist perspective with the Modernist perspective it rejected. I think both are important. And I think this combination makes history exciting as it encourages us to engage with it – not take anything as a given, but constantly question everything.
Once again I’ve written far too long of a blog entry so probably no one will read it. Apparently we live in a headline society – if you can’t fit it into one line then noone will hear you. Anyway, I need to do this waffle to make it make sense in my own head so I don’t really care. I am thinking about doing a PhD on something to do with this stuff next year. But I also have ideas about “Pan-en-theism” ie “Everything-in-God” and Process Theology / Process Philosophy – which looks at the MEANING of this evolution process in a more spiritual way. But trying to decide whether the spiritual side should actually be my focus, or if I should dedicate my time just to the Big History side of things, working on an argument for why it should be taught in schools, and looking at ways this perspective can filter through into mainstream consciousness. If you read this I would really love your opinion on it and on what I should do…
Let me sum up what has become quite an essay:
PEACE is a CHOICE. And when you see your place in the big picture of the universe you see that peace is a state of being that starts inside EACH ONE OF US, and will filter out from there to create a WORLD AT PEACE.