Voices of Faith: Should I give up on there ever being peace in this world?

09/17/2011 12:00 AM

09/17/2011 7:45 AM

FIND SPIRITUAL SOLACE

Pastor Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: The question allows for addressing the issue of war, the perpetual hindrance to world peace. Armed conflict between nation s is the way of the world. The 21st century does not provide us with sensibilities of world peace. As long as there are nations rising against nations, world peace is improbable. To this, Jesus speaks: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars ... for nation shall rise against nation.” (Matthew 24:6-7)

Wars are political and religious statements. A military general said, “The military don’t start wars, the politicians start wars.” The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is both a political and religious statement of longstanding. Consider the al-Qaida network of terrorist activity; the Iraqi, Afghanistan conflicts.

War is a deadly plague in human history. The moral issue within our question is addressed: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.” And John Paul II said, “War should belong to the tragic past; it should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.”

But peace is not a one-sided circumstance. There is what Scripture calls “perfect peace,” the kind of peace that provides a window of spiritual solace. Consider the prophet’s words in Isaiah 26:3 and Jesus’ words in John 14:27.

SOFTEN YOUR HEART

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: Some experts report as many as 16 different wars going on the planet at this moment. With all of the incredible suffering going in the world today due to these conflicts, I can understand why you ask this question. Nearly all wars are due to the clinging and grasping of either an ideology, the desire for resources or for power — or all three.

But where do these causes originate? These causes originate first in our own mind. The well-known Buddhist nun Pema Chodron defines war as when we “harden our heart” and peace as “softening what is rigid in our heart.”

According to Chodron, it is very easy to harden our hearts — sometimes over trivial things and at other times over larger issues. We talk about terrorist as fundamentalists, but what about our own fundamentalism? When we harden our hearts and shut down, we become fundamentalists, which is to say we become very self-righteous about our attitude.

I was present once when his Holiness the Dalai Lama was asked how he thought we could best achieve world peace. He said, “The best way to achieve world peace is, first, each of us must develop peace in our own hearts.”

His simple yet profound answer means that each of us needs to learn how to soften what is rigid in our hearts. World peace is only possible when that occurs.

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