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Virtues in Paradise: Can we save the world?

Saturday 11 November 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Virtues in Paradise


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 of difference.

  1. Purify 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.
  2. Purify 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.
  3. 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 hurt them.

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.