From the comments you’ve left for the past few peace postings, it’s clear that the majority of us have a hard time believing world peace is possible. Most of us seem to find humans prone to the greed of wanting more—more power, more land, more adherence to a rigid ideology. Because of that, world peace seems totally elusive.
As I’ve pondered the possibility of peace, I’ve concluded that each of us has an inner shadow—the shadow perhaps of becoming at times intolerant, judgmental, hateful. Sometimes, because of the depth of this shadow we consider ourselves separate from a group called “other.”
We demand that others become like us. We seem to want to be the standard for all. For example: I do not understand those who continue to follow President Trump’s leadership. So I’ve moved into “them” and “me” thinking, and I’m noting only differences. Given this flaw within me—this seeming necessity to choose exclusivity—the possibility of world peace seems impossible.
So I want to muse today, not on world, but on inner peace. That is, let’s start with ourselves for that will lead, I believe, ultimately, to wholeness. When we are at peace, we can share it with others. Then inner peace can spread one to another so that slowly—millennia slowly—peace enters each and all of us.
I believe love is the wellspring of peace. For decades I found myself to be so flawed that I, at times, despised myself. I had no love for the Dee Ready of grade school or the teenage years or the convent years. No love for the Dee Ready who left the convent and moved numerous times, always running from the image she had of herself.
Finding within myself only darkness, I became desperate for someone or something to shed light within my spirit, my soul. I wanted to like myself, but couldn’t. I found no good to love or like. I found only traits and emotions that seemed despicable to me. I didn’t want to claim them or have them be part of my make-up.
Then, when I was in my forties, I was able, with the help of a psychiatrist, to find the deep-down goodness within me. I came to realize that goodness dwelt amidst other traits and emotions that to my idealistic self had seemed negative. In truth these unloved traits sometimes came to the fore of my actions, but never as the essence of who I was.
It was only when I accepted the wholeness of who I was that I could love myself. And it is only when we love ourselves—flawed as we are—that we can love others—flawed as they may be.
So I believe that if I am to pass peace to another, I must be at peace within myself. At peace with my own shadow. At peace with my occasional disgruntlement. At peace with my feelings of anger or pain or hurt or sorrow. All of that is me. I encompass the world of emotion.
The world—with its greed and bias and hatred—is within me. I hope it’s mostly a light shadow after all these years. But it is there. I want to acknowledge that there is no “them” and “me.” There is only all of us struggling as we journey toward wholeness.
Yet even when I do fall into the trap of intolerance, I want to say, “Dee, you’re only human. Be gracious to yourself. Love yourself. Love others. Give the gift of peace daily.” When I love myself, flawed as I am, I am able to love others, flawed as they are. Then, and only then, can I give true peace to others.
This cycle is endless and constantly it needs to be renewed by a vow to give peace that is enveloped by love. That’s why I find myself saying the following affirmation each day, especially as I watch the evening news: “The president of the United States is growing more mature, more worthy of his position, and more presidential each and every day.”
I’d like to end with a hope that all of you love yourselves as you are today. Love both lightness and darkness within you, trusting that light slowly embraces dark, welcomes it, and redeems it. Peace.