I sat for two days in the forest in Phoenicia, NY with my partner, Phoenix. In that period of time we discussed many things; including how peace might actually be brought about on earth.
As I meditated on our conversations, I first considered the mythologies of peace we have all read. They are not really peace myths but destruction myths. Namely, a great apocalypse will descend upon the earth and there will be death, famine and suffering followed by Jesus coming out of the clouds with a host of angels to bring a reign of a 1000 years of peace where the streets will be paved with gold. Such was the vision of John The Baptist in the book of Revelation.
Much of the world seems to have bought into this myth and part of the myth is that we are waiting for a savior rather than realizing that the cavalry is not coming. Who we are waiting for … IS US!
The most destructive part of this myth might actually be the displacement of responsibility for peace to a savior rather than ourselves.
This so called peace myth we have unconsciously adopted continues to play out with the exception that the names and the players have changed. The US and Allied forces vanquish the Nazi’s and the Japanese and Europe and Asia have peace. The US and the Coalition of the “Willing” vanquish the radical islamic terrorists and after a long war we have peace.
But do we actually get peace? Is a destruction myth following by an occupation equal to peace? Wouldn’t peace, at minimum, require cooperation, integration and buy-in by the defeated?
We might need a new mythology and a new model for peace.
Clearly, the current model is a failure. It has exhausted its usefulness in terms of the goal it aims to achieve. We may have destroyed the Third Reich but we have not vanquished Nazi ideology. They are on the march in Europe and even in the streets of the US. Many more people who don’t outrightly identify as Nazi’s espouse an “ethic” that is hostile to other people who don’t look the same, pray the same and speak the same.
One thing that has occurred with our current mythology of peace (what I will now rename the destroy and occupy myth) is that the purveyors of the methods of destruction (Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Bechtel, the Carlyle Group Raytheon, and others) are getting fabulously rich and their wealth is coming directly out of the pockets of taxpayers at the expense of important social programs like health, education, and the general welfare.
These two things are incompatible. You can’t want one and have the other.
Which brings me to the need for a new Peace Myth. A myth based on integration and wholeness.
What if the new peace myth presupposes that peace is not missing. What if peace is already present, ready at hand, and available … but merely needs to be initiated and activated? The notion that peace is here now is a bit like food being fully available and ready … but in the form of a seed. It merely needs to be nurtured.
There is no shortage of food. There is no shortage of peace.
What there is a shortage of are rituals and practices that activate what is already there. The ritual creates the space for something to come into being. If we go back to the seed — can a seed grow in a garden that is overgrown with weeds? Or in soil that is depleted of nutrients? We can certainly plant that seed, but what chance will it have if it can’t get sun or the space to spread its roots and grow? The potential is there. The possibility of the plant growing and fruiting is there, but without the space (the ritual of cultivation: weeding, watering, mulching and fertilizing) the activation of that plants potential lies dormant.
A new peace myth might look a lot less like Jesus coming out of the sky with angels and more like creating peace rituals right here on Earth.
Queries on peace rituals:
— What might a peace ritual look like?
— How often might peace rituals take place?
— Are peace rituals individual or group rituals? Or both?
— What might a peace ritual look like? What and who would it include?
— How can we come from peace?
— What is the starting point for peace?
— Could the rigorous sharing of ideas and finding common ground be a useful ritual?
— How can we ritualize the idea from Thich Nhat Hanh that “There is no way to peace, peace is the way?"
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