Will there ever be lasting peace in the world? I wondered as I scanned through the headlines in the NY times lying on the coffee table at my friend’s condo overlooking the New York Skyline across the Hudson. I was in town to participate in a peace conference organized at the United Nations. As always, the newspaper was filled with stories reminding us about the challenging times we live in today. For a moment, everything I was doing by being there seemed so pointless. Has there ever been a time when the planet was completely peaceful?
Perhaps only when there were no moving creatures here!
If we look at human history, today may not be any worse than the past when it comes to world conflicts and violence. If I could travel through time, which period would I choose to live in? No part of the world has ever been devoid of violence in the name of religion, race, language, ideology or simply a desire to conquer the other. Human race was so barbaric in the middle ages. Are we not better off now than those medieval times? At the same time, technological advances have brought us to a point that one wrong decision by a world leader can lead to total destruction of the planet. The world was violent then and is violent now. Not much difference – only the weapons and their destructive powers have changed, that’s all.
What are we doing differently now than before which will give us better results? Are we looking for solutions when none exist? Is human race wired not to drop violent tendencies from its DNA? And if we just didn’t do anything, would it matter at all in the big picture? Perhaps not, but is there a point beyond which all efforts reach a plateau or even become counter-productive? After the invention of the nuclear bomb, we encountered many moments so close to total destruction. Who would the credit go to for avoiding that? Or was it just coincidental?
The more I thought, the more disturbing things got. I wasn’t going anywhere with this. I knew, it was time to take a little break from this train of thought with my morning meditation, disconnect myself from the world as I know it and dive into the depth of my inner world. Perhaps real peace can only be found there. Just the possibility of that felt quite refreshing!
I feel so fortunate to have a practice to deal with the negativity that crops up from time to time. It feels like sitting in a washing machine for a few minutes and letting all the stains, tiredness, and depressive thoughts get washed away and fill me up with enthusiasm to keep moving forward, do whatever I could, to make a difference. The story of the grandfather, child and star fish flashed through my mind. Exactly what I needed. A grandfather was taking a walk with his grandchild on the beach. Waves were splashing on the shore leaving many starfish behind each time. Seeing this, the child leaned forward, picked up a starfish and threw it back in the water. He continued doing this with so much enthusiasm and optimism. The grandfather looked at the futility of the child’s actions and said, “my child, how many will you save? There are so so many!” The child threw another one back into the sea and said, “At least, I could save this one. If you join me, we can save a few more. Let’s not worry about those we couldn’t save, let’s keep our spirits high to help those we can.”
This story brought the much needed clarity, energy and resolve and I was ready to take on the day, one moment at a time.