Is it the end of the world? Is World War III starting? How can anyone bomb civilians, babies and children, schools, and hospitals? Linda Kavelin-Popov writes.
Such questions are worrying people here in
Paradise, including the pre-teens in the Araura College Virtues Circle and the
five to ten-year-olds in the Aitutaki Virtues Club, both of which I’m
facilitating. Watching the world as we know it falling apart breeds intense and
pervasive stress and anxiety that lingers in the back of our minds. How can we
combat the resulting feelings of helplessness about the fate of humanity and of
our precious planet? Whatever our religious beliefs about the meaning of these
disastrous conditions, how are we to respond? What can we do? As the old Bob
Dylan song says, “The times, they are a’changin’.” Some believe that there is a
new world waiting on the other side of the chaos – a world of peace where all lives
matter, where love conquers hate. What if we could bring that day closer with
the daily choices we make?
I believe we have far more influence than
we know, if we commit to being peacemakers, if we are willing to give up the
love of power for the power of love. According to the ancient prophet
Zoroaster, “For any human being, the purification of character is done thus … with
good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” This is no small task. It requires
courage, strength, self-discipline, and steadfast intent to personal
transformation, but it can be done. Here are practices which can make a world
your thoughts. Reflect Jesus’s beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they
shall be called the children of God.” The Baha’i teachings say, “When a thought of war comes, oppose it
by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful
thought of love.”
The children in my virtues circles expressed anger and grief over the pain and
suffering of children across the world. Together, we sent waves of prayer and
love to help and comfort them. Visualise a peaceful way to resolve conflicts in
your family or community. Focus the power of your mind.
your words, especially when you feel angry. Words can destroy or uplift, curse
or bless. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
(Proverbs 15:1) Stop labeling people as “useless”, “dumb”, “crazy” or worse.
Focus on virtues instead. Call for respect and understanding. When your beliefs
or politics differ from others, don’t build a wall. Cross a bridge. Don’t get
furious. Get curious! “Help me to understand how you see it,” and then listen
with as much detachment as you can. Agree to disagree.
Purify your deeds. Clean
up any feuds or unforgiven hurts. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
(Mahatma Gandhi) This isn’t about faking “niceness” or lip service. Transform
your anger into justice. There is no peace without justice. Be assertive about
setting boundaries but not aggressive by making others wrong or retaliating to
Visualise yourself tossing a stone into
calm water, the ripples moving out and out. Trust that your words, your actions
and yes, even your thoughts, have a ripple effect on the human spirit. Let your
life be a prayer.