Peace Begins With ME -June2009

I recently had the honor and privilege of attending a three-day conference on Tibet, with the highlight being an entire day with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For me, listening to his message of loving kindness, compassion and forgiveness as ways to not only bring about peace, but as a way to live, reaffirmed my commitment to this path. "I'm nothing special," he said. "I'm just another human being, just like you. We all have the same potential."

He continued by emphasizing that "The concept of 'we and they' is no longer relevant. We must look at the world as just one entity - just we."

Challenging words behind a wonderful message and powerful vision, but how do we get to a place where we treat each other as brothers and sisters, where we become citizens of the world rather than grouped behind invisible borders that keep some out and that promotes the 'us and them' mentality? We get there by purposely, positively, and with awareness, reaching out and connecting with our brothers and sisters. We say we want to live in peace, not only without war, but without violence and abuse, then we must model this to others. Because we know this and because this is our vision, it must then also be our responsibility. There are many who have come before us who modeled this way of life, and as the Dalai Lama said, we all have the same potential, we can all be compassionate, we can all be caring, we can all be kind.

As I listened to the plight of the Tibetan people, that they are being dispersed all over the globe, building communities outside their country of origin, I thought of a future of a borderless world. In other words, people are in smaller communities all over the world and there is no need for borders and protection and control. The first step toward a peace that transcends the world is to let go of the false idea that there can be peace through control.

We are all human beings. Yes, there are cultural and ethnic differences between us, but rather than making those a source of contention, I suggest we make them a point of getting to know each other. We can indeed do this. We can respect each other, our backgrounds, our values, our heritage. We don't have to agree or adapt it as our own lifestyle, but to at least understand and have a discussion, with respect and dignity and tolerance - this is how we get to peace, this is our moral imperative. It is up to each and every one of us to get to know our neighbors, to learn about other cultures and customs, if for no other reason than to simply know and not put down or denigrate or worse yet, interact with violence. It is our responsibility to know each other.

The time has come to tear down the man-made walls of race, culture, religion and country, and establish the peaceful, ideal world. And since these are man-made, they can be undone.
Will you join me in holding the vision of a world at peace, of a world where each and every person takes an active role in creating a better world, where everyone acknowledges Peace Begins with ME!

(reprint with permission Dallas Peace Times, June 2009)

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