Thanks to the UN designated International Day of Peace in September, and grassroots organizing from over 1400 gatherings around the world, we just celebrated a wonderful World Peace Day. Here in St. Augustine we gathered on the campus of Flagler College to sing, meditate, dance, pray, eat, drink and be merrily peaceful together. As we were putting the event together, trying to rally support for such a lofty concept as World Peace, it helped me to clarify that World Peace is not a black-and-white all-or-nothing issue. World Peace is a scale.
World Peace often seems like an unattainable and unrealistic dream and this belief often stops people from giving the values of Peace serious consideration. Most people just blow it off with a shrug and a “it will never happen.” Most people, if asked, would say World Peace is illogical and impossible. And while I believe that World Peace is not only possible, but inevitable – I also believe that the point to World Peace does not lie in some far off Utopian future where we all hold hands and pet tigers all day long. The point of World Peace lies right here in our every day world right now.
So, how does a big concept like World Peace actually interconnect with not just our International relations or what is going on in the Middle East, but with what is going on in our local community, our schools, our corporations and our families? Well, World Peace is on a scale – there is a constant fluctuation of a sum total of more peace or less peace in the world in every moment. This is how a far-off dream such as World Peace becomes a part of the daily choices we each make in our personal lives. How much Peace there exists in the world at this moment changes with every peace meditation, with every incident of domestic abuse, with every act of forgiveness, with every outburst of anger, with every evening prayer circle, with every racist or homophobic punching, with every gentle act of kindness.
World Peace is a part of our daily interactions with others and the world around us, whether we think of it or not. How much violence or suffering we have in the world versus how much peace and happiness is entirely dependent on our every day actions. Am I being kind to the homeless man I pass on the street? Am I punching people in bars or vandalizing property in my neighborhood? Am I smiling at the waitress or the cashier and giving them respect as a human being? Am I helping the family down the street who had a fire and are in need of clothes and food? Am I voting for people and policies that are compassionate and creating more kindness or peace in the world? Am I voting with my purchasing power to support companies that only care about profit at the expense of child labor or environmental disasters or am I voting for companies who care about our collective future?
If we spend the extra 50 cents and buy cage-free eggs, we are contributing to a world of less suffering where chickens can run around and peck at things instead of being cooped up in a tiny cage unable to turn around for her entire life in order to save us 50 cents on eggs. All the collective vibrations of senseless suffering and pain add up on the side of the scale that is violence in this world – and humans are not alone here, all life matters. So, by the simple every day act of eating vegetarian or just by buying organic chicken or grass-fed beef, we are adding vibrations of happiness and green hills to the side of the scale that is World Peace.
So, you see, World Peace is not some far off distant impossible dream. It’s like those high school motivational posters would tell you – shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. So, strive for World Peace every day and even if you’re not around for when all violence ceases, all people live in freedom, unity and justice and we all hug tigers – you’ll be part of creating a kinder more peaceful society right now.
World Peace is a very doable scale that is changing in every moment. The choices we make every day contribute to how much peace we have in the world as a whole. The amount of Peace that exists right now is totally up to me! It’s up to each one of us – we all contribute one way or another just by being alive. And that takes World Peace from being a big unattainable concept to being a very practical part of every day life.
The Unity & Peace Day of Peace in St Augustine was meant to give people the awareness of their daily impact on this scale of Peace and to show all the options for Inner and Outer Peace that are available to all every day to contribute more peace and compassion to our world.
Buy an Inner Peace Equals World Peace T-shirt to help support Unity & Peace to keep spreading Peace Awareness throughout the year.
Below is the article about our Peace Day that was featured on the front page of the St Augustine Record on Monday, Sept 21st. A BIG thank you to Jenna Carpenter for coming out to cover the peace news – thereby adding more peace to the scale! Also including some pictures from the event. Enjoy!
St. Augustine celebrates International Day of Peace
By Jenna Carpenter
“Peace is not a state, it is a process,” said Timothy Johnson, a religion professor at Flagler College. “There’s not a point where everything will be at peace; there is only the constant struggle to bring peace.”
Johnson, along with other local scholars and activists, spoke Sunday on the subject of peace, and the many facets through which it is found.
The panel was part of a peace day festival hosted by Unity & Peace St. Augustine to celebrate the International Day of Peace, which is today.
“World peace often seems like an unattainable dream, and this belief stops people from giving the values of peace serious consideration,” said Shanti Shivaya, president of Unity & Peace. “So we are hoping to help people make the connection between peace and the choices we make every day; how we behave in our communities, corporations and families, to help us all create a culture of peace for our society.”
The festival has been going on in St. Johns County for about eight years, but Sunday was the first time it was brought to Flagler College, she said. It boasted 18 community groups and five student clubs that provided people with ways to finding peace.
Some, like the St. Augustine Avatar Group, dealt with finding inner peace through mind quieting, meditation and prayer. And others, like Compassionate St. Augustine, focused on finding world peace by spreading word of local outreach programs.
“It’s not just about meditation, it’s also about taking actions to make the world a better place,” Shivaya said.
But the two are intertwined, and world peace can only be accomplished through finding inner peace, she said.
“The state of the world is the state of each individual in the world combined,” she said. “So anyone who connects with themselves and finds inner peace, their actions create a society that is more peaceful.”
Semegon, another speaker on Sunday’s peace panel, said society doesn’t know how to handle conflict, which hinders world peace.
“We basically just avoid it instead of trying to find a way to resolve conflict and be comfortable with it, she said.”
A way to resolve conflict, she said, is to respect one another. “We have to learn to express our feelings with honesty and vulnerability instead of blame. And we have to be able to hear others when they express their needs and fears” she said.
“Finding peace from within is to communicate in a nonviolent way.”
Sunday’s festival ended with participants forming a human peace sign and singing “Imagine” by John Lennon.