Written by Lydia Singleton
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
My father served as Special Forces in the Vietnam war. He served three tours of duty and each tour ended with an injury severe enough to call for a MedEvac helicopter to take him out of the field. Although the war had long ended by the time of my birth in 1981, in my father’s mind it still raged on. The effects of this war shaped not only my experience of childhood, but in many ways it also shaped me. It was from this that a commitment to living peace was born in my heart. Living peace begins in the mind and results in its presentation in the relationships and circumstances of our life.
Peace in the mind is determined by our perception. It comes with the choice to let go of judging the conditions and people in our lives. It is giving up our thoughts that say things should be different than what they are in this moment. In her book, “Loving What Is,” Byron Katie puts it this way: “When I argue with reality I lose… but only 100 percent of the time.” Reality, or what is, already happened. It’s here. It’s over. To not accept this just brings misery. So to attain peace, we must allow life to unfold just as it is. You see, our judgements keep us from the experience of peace and because for the most part on the physical plane things are as we believe them to be, our judgements literally come true. They make our reality. When we find ourselves not at peace in any circumstance, the remedy is to stop judging, stop finding fault, stop imposing our expectations and then sit back and watch what happens.
In any circumstance in my life where I am not at peace I consider this: I may think I have it all figured out, that I know what is going on, that I know who did what, who said what and why, but all that knowledge hasn’t made me happy. My knowledge and my judgements are not bringing peace or fulfillment. So why not set them aside for a while? Give life a chance. Can I just let go and experience it without deciding what it should be? When I do this, it’s amazing how my problems resolve. My relationships move on course. I begin to see that my life starts to work on its own. All because I gave up the idea that I know what everything is about. Releasing judgement leaves a space, an opening, where peace enters in. You see, we are not trying to get peace, we are simply allowing peace to come. We are making room for it.
Our commitment to allowing peace into our hearts and lives is so important. Peace with others, within ourselves and in the circumstances of our lives is where peace in our communities, our nation and our world begin. It begins with us and then extends outward. We who know that we are spiritual beings having a human experience must truly be the leaders of peace. Our world needs us. I heard a talk in which someone explained how a herd of gazelles “decide” to travel to another watering hole. It begins with one member of the herd turning in the direction of a new body of water. One by one, each gazelle turns their head in the same direction. The moment the number is just one over half, so for example in a herd of 100, when the 51st antelope turns its head in the new direction, all of the herd takes off in that instant as one unit to the new oasis.
I believe that peace in our world will happen in this same way. As each of us, one by one, turn in the direction of peace there will come a moment when as one human family we reach it together.
Lydia Singleton is the Spiritual Leader/Director for Unity of Appleton - A Community for Spiritual Growth located at 1366 Appleton Road, Menasha. Sunday service weekly at 10 a.m.