That is a great question.
I wish there was a pat answer.
I feel peace hiding, trembling, afraid to show its face of late. ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, and the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt, have the world’s humanity on edge – fearful, filled with anxiety, and witness to suffering.
From NBCNews.com: “SAINT-DENIS, France — A woman blew herself up early Wednesday (November 18) as an elite police unit raided an apartment while hunting the suspected lynchpin behind the Paris terror massacre. The status of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian jihadist thought to have played a key role in last Friday’s assaults that killed 129 people, was unclear.”
From CBSNews.com: “Twin suicide bombings struck a southern Beirut suburb that’s a stronghold of the militant Shiite Hezbollah group on Thursday evening (November 12), killing at least 43 people and wounding scores more (239) in one of the deadliest attacks in recent years in Lebanon. They targeted civilians, worshippers, unarmed people, women and elderly, they only targeted innocent people,” Hezbollah official Bilal Farhat told the AP, calling it a “satanic, terrorist attack.”
From TheGuardian.com: “A homemade bomb brought down the Metrojet airliner over Egypt’s Sinai desert last month (October), the Kremlin has said, confirming for the first time that the plane was destroyed by a terrorist act. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, vowed to find and punish those responsible and ordered an increase in airstrikes on Syria as ‘inevitable retribution’ for the attack that killed all 224 people on board, mainly returning Russian holidaymakers.”
This hate-filled group vows to carry out future attacks in the United States and elsewhere. Their motive is certainly not one of peace. ISIS has drawn in thousands and thousands of followers from around the world by use of social media and with the promise that their terrorist ideology is somehow valid. (I say ideology rather than “religion” because I will not subscribe to blatant abuse of religious faith. Murder and torture cannot be part of any religion – not of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other religious organization. It cannot be an excuse or reason for terrorism.)
I ask again, where is peace?
Does anyone know?
How do we help the solidarity of non-violent, loving people be front and center in the news, rather than horrid images of corpses, of terrorists behind cowardly masks, or of Syrian children forced from their homes due to conflict? The latter is especially troubling to me. With the Paris attacks, these innocent children and their families are now the subject of panic and paranoia rather than attempts to give them peace and a home. Of the 12 million Syrians who have fled their home, half are children. Since the Syrian civil war started, 240,000 people have died, 12,000 of them children. And, yet, we have turned on them, refusing to let them cross borders or live in certain countries. I am disheartened that states’ leaders within the United States (Wisconsin included), in an attempt to squelch any attempts by terrorists to enter the country and plan further attacks, advocate a push-back of Syrian refugees. I say that’s exactly what the terrorists want. They are winning the battle of fear, hands down.
Does the world need to be on high alert?
Yes, probably. Many in the U.S. are reliving the agony of 9/11 in their minds with the attacks in Paris, concerned that it will happen here again.
Do the world’s governments and military need to find a way to stop or slow down terrorism?
Definitely, yes. I don’t advocate burying our head in the sand. Our governments have to do something.
How does the rest of the world help fight terrorism and hatred?
Peace, love, and acceptance without question. There is no organization, no power, no religious fanatic or terrorist that can overcome those words. Stand strong in them. Throw away the anxiety, fear and paranoia. Do not let the terrorists, or anyone, win that war. Be the human that wins the war for the army in white hats. Yes, that sounds too easy, too simplistic, cheesy and bleeding heart-ish. But I say to you that we can win the war of Peace vs. Terrorism by asking ourselves how we contribute toward the hate that is permeating our world.
What are we doing that exacerbates ill will and prejudice toward others? Are we treating our fellow humans as we want to be treated? Are we being judgmental and unwilling to help those in need? Does our fear of the unknown create negative feelings toward others? Are our actions and spoken words that of peace and good will toward all?
I am able to admit that I haven’t always answered those questions with positive answers. At various points in my life, I’ve called people names, I’ve judged, I’ve avoided offering help to others, and I’ve been fearful of people that I viewed as “different.” I’m positive that most of us have succumbed to the messy human behavior that is the antithesis of peace. It comes from our free-thinking brains. We allow ourselves to be high-jacked by the negative views and subliminal messages of strangers, family members, the media, politicians, peers, and co-workers, and the willingness of our own human brain to either kowtow to those views or to ignore them. We don’t always fight the battle for peace because we’re afraid of the conflict, afraid to take a step forward.
Why? Why don’t we resist? How do we, as individuals, find peace?
Resistance is not futile. It is in each one of us to fight. We all have the ability to find peace in ourselves and with others. So, I ask you…
Love your neighbor, no matter what. They may not be very friendly or never pull weeds, but there’s a story behind their faces. Consider that their lives may be going through rough times and that a kind word from you could make a difference.
Be kind to all people, no matter their race, religion, sexual preference, number of tattoos or status. If you want to be treated with respect and kindness, you have to give it in return. Don’t be fearful of what you don’t know about someone. Talk to them, learn their story. Put yourself in their shoes. Educate yourself about people and cultures that are different from you and yours.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or any organization that helps humans in need. It puts the volunteer in a place of understanding and empathy. Don’t brag about it. Just do it.
Avoid jumping on a negative or hateful bandwagon. My mother used to ask me, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?” That was always in response to a whine of, “Well, so-and-so, gets to do that.” Let that question swirl around in your head the next time someone pounds their angry fist or points their accusing finger and tries to get you to join their army. Is that what you really want? Do you want to jump off a bridge with them?
Laugh. Have a positive mindset. Tell everyone you feel great and they are awesome. Encourage. Sing a happy song. Give your heart and mind a reason to feel peace.
Don’t hold a grudge. Don’t give the finger to the slow driver ahead of you. Don’t scream angrily at your children or your partner or at the guy at the service counter who is not the reason why you’re having a bad day.
I could go on, but I imagine you get the point.
So, where is peace?
Peace resides in all of us. Peace only hides, is fearful, is hateful because we let it. We encourage it. We let it fall into the hands of those who would strangle and bury it. Let it be our mission, one-by-one, to bring peace to ourselves so that we can bring true peace to the world. If we let our anger and hate grow, no one will ever sing John Lennon’s song again.
Ghandi is correct. Hate and retaliation blinds us. Peace will come out of the shadows if we nurture it, encourage it, practice it.
Practice it, my friends, and the answer will lay at your feet.