Peace Begins With ME! January 2010

As we transition into a new year, I invite you to reflect back on 2009, specifically to times where you have made a
difference. I'm hoping you are acknowledging your contribution, no matter how big or small. With each act, together,
we all add to creating a consciousness of peace and nonviolence.

And what about this coming year? Martin Luther King said "If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for,
he isn't fit to live." Biting words, for sure, and while some of us may not have a cause we are willing to die for,
I'm wondering how many of us have a cause we are willing to LIVE for? Are we living what we believe? Something that
we believe in so passionately that we devote our time, talent and treasure to promote that cause, to stand up for what
is right. While we may be a martyr for giving our life for a cause, I think more importantly we can be a hero for
devoting our life TO a cause.

For many of us, the New Year also brings resolutions - statements about how we may want to change. Although we can
decide to change a behavior at any time, the New Year provides a convenient break point. Thing is, change is always
happening, all around us, and we get to choose how we interact with that change. We have the gift of choice, and we can
choose to give, or choose to make a difference in someone's life, or choose to model peace in the face of conflict.
Or not.

In the tradition of New Year Resolutions, I'd like to suggest that on our way to finding a cause we are willing to live
for, we resolve to:
- treat each other with respect and dignity,
- let go of judgments and condemnations,
- practice acts of kindness on a regular basis,
- bring peace and reconciliation to every circumstance,
- confront, then resolve nonviolently, any conflict that comes up,
- discover, then be an advocate for, that cause you are willing to live for.

Realizing that what we desire most is to be happy, and that if there is war, poverty, hunger, scandal, deception,
corruption, greed, etc. going on all around us, it may be difficult to detach and find that happiness. While most
of these 'big picture' conflicts are out of our direct control, we can chose to not participate in them, and more
importantly, we can chose to live a life that does not include these behaviors. When we do this, when we live in
what the Dalai Lama calls 'positive ethical conduct', then we are contributing to the consciousness of peace, we
are adding to the possibility that some day, happiness is the norm.

The idea of happiness and a peaceful life goes back to ancient Greece, to Aristotle, where he espouses the value of
leading a virtuous life. Both Aristotle and the Dalai Lama (and many in between) admit that it is easier to lose
control, to overreact, to create conflict, than it is to live positively. And by direct inference, this means it is
up to me, it's in my control, which way to live. In other words, Peace Begins With ME!

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