Peace begins in one’s heart
Fr. Sojan Puthankudy
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]an is destined by his very nature to be the king of creation and to live in peace and harmony. But the sad fact remains, as human civilization progresses and world becomes global village through rapid development in technology and communication, human beings themselves becomes humankind’s worst enemy. He lives in the shadow of conflicts and mistrust. In fact today in the world, the lust for power, the insatiable thirst for authority, greed for wealth and the ambition to control things and people are giving way to peaceful co-existence. Dirty politics with no ideology, fanatic exclusive religious affiliation, high degree of pretence and hypocrisy, and divided and rule policy have pitted people against one group against another. The natural consequence is suspicion and fear among groups and hinder peaceful means of ending differences.
Despite all the legitimate fears of living as we in a world of hatred and greed, the peace we long for will not come through guns, battles and mindless killing. It only causes extinction of our fellow human being and deep rooted hatred, suspicion and fear. Conflicts and fights are horrifying experience, whatever the justification. When people kill one another, when Christians kill Muslims, when one ideological group kill another, when one tribesman kills the other, it is men/ brothers/Sisters that die and it is humanity that suffers. In truth, there are no victors in war and conflicts. Shedding blood begets only bloodsheds and untold suffering. It challenges one’s moral values; test one’s own faith in God and his belief in His precepts.
Walls of hatred and discords are built first between two human hearts, which then spreads to between families, villages, communities, ideological groups, religious groups etc. Think of the division and prejudices that is existing in our own lang between one group against another, one Christian denomination against another.
Today peace is the need of the hour. It is possible only through concerted effort, open hearted negotiations, by respecting freedom and justice, through sharing and concern, through removing fear and suspicion, by avoiding confrontation, by respecting the innate dignity every person. Peaceful co-existence is a courageous decision. It requires give and take attitude, humility, sincerity and the willingness to come to the negotiating table. More over it calls for trust, viz., trust in oneself, trust in others and trust in God. Without building up trust no human being, no society can go far. When trust has been betrayed, the wounds leave scars that go deep. The word ‘trust’, is not a facile word. It is the result of a conscious choice. Often times our reason give way to emotions and thus begin all troubles.
In essence, peace begins in one’s heart. Rich Warren in his book, ‘God’s Power to change your life’, speaks of three kinds of peace, namely, spiritual, emotional and relational peace. Spiritual and emotional peace are essential to build relational peace i.e., peace with fellow beings. Someone has figured out that in the past 3500 years the world has had just 286 years of peace. Therefore, lasting peace is possible when our lives are founded on Godly principles and in our humility to ask as well as offer forgiveness to those who are wronged us etc.
Working for peace is work of every individual. There will always trials, road blocks, but effort towards it should never be stopped. It all begins with accepting and understanding one, starting with those who are around you and working for justice. Today young people should be the catalyst in this process. All eyes are turned to you, for you are reason for hope. If you, burning with idealistic zeal, can initiate action, peace will not be impossibility.
One prayer which spontaneous spring from my lips is that of St. Francis of Assisi. He prayed;
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The questions each one of us should individually ask are; How can I be a channel of peace? How can I be a channel of Love? How can I be a channel of pardon? How can I be a channel of hope and light? If you find right answer, then we are on the course to building peace. Over to you!