Lighting A Candle For Peace
So, as we are heading towards the end of the year and Christmas is nigh what are our hopes and dreams? Who would have thought it would be war? Sadly the truth is that if that is what we have collectively created then that’s what we have been collectively wishing for. Although this is clearly very sad, acceptance is the first step towards change and I have come to learn to accept the journey we are on.
Any of you who have come across my Keys to the Golden City project know that the number 12 is very important to me for many reasons. It feels ironic that I only have to look back 12 years to find myself in exactly the same position that I am now only hopefully slightly wiser to the story we are creating.
After years of not feeling the urge to march, especially after the grimness of the poll tax march in 1990, in 2003 I took to the streets again, terrified that the government (I had ironically voted for) had no idea of what they were stirring up. It’s taken until now for Blair to admit that he was wrong and that the war created the new Islamic State and the ironies continue because it was he who called those that marched against the war ‘naive’. Well, the mirror always shows the truth revealing the leaders to be the ones who were naive.
Now, it seems that just as our leaders of only 12 years ago are beginning to understand the fire they have been playing with and apologising for it, the next generation of politicians are already put their hands to their ears and are refusing to listen to those that made the mistakes before them, thinking they know better.
Until we realise that we are all victims here, until we realise that blame has no place in this story, because once you begin playing that game you find yourself right in the firing line.
We are a people at war with ourselves and we continually turn that inner conflict into sibling rivalry. Seeing ourselves in our brother, the Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmail we then play that conflict out with our neighbours, and this was stated so clearly by the Dalai Lama when asked why he didn’t fight back against the Chinese.
He was quoted as saying "Well, war is obsolete, you know." Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he said, "Of course the mind can rationalise fighting back ... but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you."
The idea that believing in peace is naive, as I have often been told, fascinates me as does the idea of love. To my mind there is absolutely no other way of being, no other solution. The fact that most people find this impossible is a small stumbling block that I refuse to let get in my way. The fact that war not only fails to solve any problems but as in most cases and especially this one, hugely adds to them doesn’t seem to stop people thinking it’s the only way. In a society that prides itself on logic I remain constantly baffled. I, on the other hand, do not believe in logic and war proves its downfalls time and time again. This is probably best left for another blog but I will just say that Edward De Bono’s lateral thinking ideas beats logic any day.
I would like to illustrate my thoughts with a little story, a true story, well, true as I saw it.
I grew up in Bristol and for most of my young childhood Bristol suffered from conflict between its black community and the police as did most cities in Britain. This climaxed in 1981 with the first of the country’s race riots in St Pauls. As the riots beaconed around the country, five years later it came full circle back to Bristol. By the nineties, after nearly two decades of a conservative government, the country was struggling with growing tensions between rich and poor and all the problems that brings and Bristol, which is essential quite a gentle, artistic city began being visited by the North, particularly the gangs from Manchester and then closely followed by the Yardies, the hard drug runners from Jamaica. Many of these brought guns with them and a level of violence the Bristolians simply weren’t prepared for and didn’t want. What followed was an amazing thing. Suddenly the enemy at home seemed far less like an enemy when these outsiders came to stir things up. The only solution was to work together and remove the common enemy. Now this is not a new story, but the oldies are always the goodies and the black community and the police combined forces and got rid of the scary invaders. When they were gone all that was left was relative harmony. (I don’t want to imply that there are no race issues in Bristol, just that things were greatly improved. We are still a people in conflict after all). The gift had been received.
I believe that when we understand that the West has been responsible in many ways for creating the unrest in the Middle East, but that the responsibility lies with the other side too and that this goes back millennia, we can see that the IS is our gift. As the brothers, Isaac and Ismail have played out their sibling rivalry through the centuries, we now have an opportunity to join forces to remove the common enemy, remembering that this common enemy, IS, is just the mirror of our deepest fear and anger. Just as we created it, it is up to us to learn to love and forgive ourselves and therefore remove this enemy, the enemy within that has been manifested without.
I believe, guns simply add to the pain and anger and with each bomb that is dropped we fuel the fire as an endless spring of angry muslims are radicalised by our actions and join the rivers that flow into the ocean in the Middle East. It is simple cause and effect, as we continue to bomb the Middle East, young Muslims will be drawn to continue to join up. How long are we prepared to keep this endless, terrible cycle alive?
It is the coming together which is the gift and if we use the force of love to unite our nations that have long been in conflict, we will discover it is far more powerful than any guns or bombs could possibly be. If we all woke up tomorrow with peace in our hearts this story would be an irrelevance. With peace in our hearts the enemy and conflict within would disappear and in that instance so would the illusion that we have physical enemies.
Peace be with you.