Well, it is holiday time again. The holiday time is for most, a time for family and friends to gather, perhaps feast, and maybe sing songs of cheer, love, and peace. My personal favorite holiday song is “So this is Christmas” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The refrain of the song says “War is over if you want it, war is over now.” I’d like to propose this as a mantra for the 21st century. “War is over if you want it. War is over now.”
Is this possible? Can we see the end of war? Empty battlefields? I believe we can and will see the idea of war come to an end, simply because the survival of the human race depends on it. In reality, war is an idea based on other ideas. A “meta-idea” if you will. So perhaps if we look and see which ideas war is based on, we can see the foolishness behind those ideas, the false need for war will dissipate.
DIVISION OF SELF, DIVISION OF OTHER
The one belief structure which seems to leap out at me is nationalism. Nationalism is what Albert Einstein claimed to be a “cancer of society.” Isn’t nationalism just the belief that because I was born in a particular culture, religion, belief system, and in a particular government, that the culture, religion, belief system, or government is somehow superior? Just because I was born and raised in America, makes America somehow more correct or superior? Just because I was born a Christian or a Muslim makes whichever I was raised in correct? When it is written down and handed to us in this way, we can probably see the utter madness involved here. We need to be brave enough to see through the false belief of nationalism, which through its very structure creates an “Us verse Them” mentality. In true reality, there is no “Us” or “Them” there is only “We.” With that realization, war is indeed over. How many children, husbands, wives and mothers will die this year for the sake of an idea? How many more years will we wage war and conflict on others in support of false beliefs?
CHANGE HAPPENS ONE PERSON AT A TIME
The second part of the phrase in John Lennon’s song gives us the “if you want it.” I have come to see the “if you want it” part more these days. This puts the responsibility of peace right in our lap. It is easy for us to say to ourselves “wouldn’t world peace be great” or “If only the politicians would stop waging war, we could live in peace” or “how can we ever achieve peace when so much violence continues unabated around the world” Indeed, its easy to raise our arms in hopeless desperation and just give up. But it is just that hopelessness that allows the violence to continue. Whenever you feel like giving up, bring awareness to what that feels like. What does this hopelessness feel like in my mind? What does this desperation feel like in my body? Is there a tightness in my abdomen? Is there tension in the back of my neck? Does this hopelessness have a particular color or shape in my mind? In my body? Do not try to answer these questions, but allow the questions to bring you to a more intimate relationship with this hopeless desperation which keeps war and violence alive and peace at bay.
Peace happens one person at a time. We can easily look out on our present world day situation and get frustrated, angry, or upset. We can condemn or curse those whom trespass against us. But it is just that hopelessness, that frustration, that condemnation which ads energy to the violence. It multiplies violence into more violence. The energy we use to get upset, frustrated or angry breeds more violence…either overtly or covertly. We could use that energy for better means.
CHANGE HAPPENS ONE DAY AT A TIME
Take time every day. It could be just a few minutes…but take time every day to find stillness. You don’t have to go to a mountaintop or into the woods to find it. If there is sound there is also the backdrop of silence. It is the silence which allows the sound to be there. Can you hear the silence underneath the sounds which you now hear? This canvass of silence upon which the universe orchestrates the soundtrack of our life. Take a few moments to rest with that silence. Look around you now. Perhaps you see objects in the room around you, maybe the computer in front of you as you read this. But none of this experience would be possible without the space in which all these objects arise. Pay close attention to that space. The emptiness side of experience which is always with us, but we fail to recognize, being so hypnotized by the forms which arise in this space. It is in this space where peace is found. It is in this stillness that the phrase “War is Over” begins to make sense. I have stopped adding anger, aggression, violence to my world. I have made a choice. For me..in my worldview…war is indeed over, despite the violence that rages on across the globe. I am not ignorant to the situation and I don’t turn a blind eye to it. War ends one person at a time. Do you want it? And as John Lennon said “You may say, I’m a dreamer….but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us. And the world can live as one.”