When I walked into church on Sunday, the small congregation was singing, “Peace will fill the world when we finally understand that only from within can it spread throughout the land.” Peace isn’t an external matter that can be legislated and enforced. Peace is a way of being-–in harmony with ourselves, with others, and with the physical planet.
Peace starts inside. We contribute to world peace by healing our own poor self esteem, our fear, our old hurts, and by resolving our internal conflicts about accepting love. In that sense peace is matter of being, not doing. It’s not self indulgent to focus on the place inside that isn’t still; it’s our responsibility. Denial and looking good are not sufficient. No one else can heal us and what is inside of us is as much a part of the world as any other space.
Reality is far more than we can see and touch. The quantum physicists tell us that reality is not static and that we are not separate. The implications for our consciousness are huge. World peace is damaged when we belittle ourselves. It’s not OK to diminish (or exaggerate) our value even in our own minds. We need to adopt the Golden Rule–treat ourselves as well as we treat others.
Personal empowerment implies respect for Life within us, realizing that we participate in a greater whole. We listen with detachment, acknowledging a wisdom we don’t own. We allow it to guide us, acting from a peaceful center when we are called to do so. Global empowerment results from our respect for Life around us on the planet and in other people. All readers will eagerly agree that they respect the planet and others and yet poverty, hunger, and disease continue. Why? Do we need another well intentioned program or ten more or a thousand more?
Carl Jung told the story of a rainmaker visiting a village in Africa parched by drought for many months. He entered the tent prepared for him and stayed there alone for three days. On the fourth day rain fell. When asked what he had “done,” he replied that he had picked up such imbalance when he walked through the village that he knew he must restore balance inside himself. When he did, balance was restored around him.
If each of us took responsibility for restoring balance inside ourselves, our planet would transform. We can’t empower ourselves or our planet from our heads. We must commit our hearts to being present to anything unhealed within us and invite the healing that our minds can’t fathom to work in us. When we live with that openness and that surrender to Life, healing will flood the planet.
When I left the church we sang, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Each of us must commit to healing ourselves so that our planet can be healed. No one can do our work for us. Are you willing to do your part? The health of the planet depends on it.
Ruth Cherry, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is midlife when psychological and spiritual dynamics merge.