If I was given the option, “Your life in exchange for peace on Earth?”, what would I choose?
Is there anything which could possibly justify choosing myself? Could I live with myself knowing my life is coming at the cost of the continued pain in the world? What would I do with a life I held onto at such cost?
A different, less extreme choice: peace on Earth not for my life, but for my fears? If I was promised there would be peace on Earth if I gave up being afraid, what would I do?
It would be silly for me to then hold onto my fears. The reward is great – peace on Earth. And what am I giving up: my life, my loved ones, my ideals, my hopes? No , just my fears. If I accept that I will not be afraid of anything or anyone, under any circumstances – if I make that the core of my being – what harm is coming to me? Why would I possibly choose holding onto my fears over peace in the world?
But I do everyday choose my fears over peace in the world. Is it because what I am imaging is a fantastical scenario? No one after all can promise me that there will be peace on Earth if I give up my fears. No one can even tell me what peace on Earth would mean. Is that why I normally feel ok to hold onto my fears?
Ok, let’s try this. What if I gave myself a choice: Peace within myself for giving up my fears? The more I resolve to be unmoved by any fear, the more I will be at peace. I will then be a person of peace.
Peace on Earth increases the more there are people of peace. People who choose to give up their fears in order to be at peace. So if I give up my fears, I contribute just through that to increasing Peace on Earth. It doesn’t create peace on Earth. But it enables me there to be more peace on Earth. Just by my acting on my choice for myself.
The normal delusion is that my fears help me survive, and a peaceful world is one in which I get to survive as I am. Hence peace on Earth requires not that I give up my fears but that I can rest assured that my fears will never come true.
Hence normally peace on Earth is not something I help create, but which has to be created for me. The world has to be made safe for me. By those with power like the politicians, the intellectuals, the priests, the rich, the celebrities, the Gurus, etc. Peace on Earth in this sense is the world’s promise to me that as long as I am basically a moral person (don’t kill, steal, etc), then I will be made safe in the world.
Of course peace on Earth in this sense is a total impossibility. There can be no peace on Earth if the people get to remain fundamentally mediocre, even if generally moral, beings. Human fighting results not necessarily from grand themes like evil, but from a resistance to transcend ourselves. Show me two people getting into a fight and I will show you two people embracing their emotional mediocrity.
Being moral is good. Better than killing and stealing. But it is also just an early stage of human potential. When the moral person asks himself, “Do I want to act beyond what morality requires?”, then new possibilities for human flourishing open up.
Peace on Earth isn’t a matter of everyone being moral. It is a matter of people undertaking the inner journey into their psyches and uprooting their long held fears and anxieties.
That is why we cannot imagine what peace on Earth would look like. Not because we can’t predict others’ behavior. But because we cannot see through – even in our own case – to the end of the tunnel of our own transformation.
Choose the self transformation. Choose the uncertainty of changing. Choose giving up fears. Then new visions of peace will blossom within you and from you.