Thoughts on Peace – Reflections from the Newark Peace Summit: Peace Engagement
A) Go out of your way to pick it up and throw it in the trash.
B) Keep walking on your intended path. You’ve got better things to do, and besides, it’s not your trash, why should you pick it up?
C) You were the person who threw the trash on the ground in the first place.
One of the workshops I attended at the Newark Peace Summit described how people’s engagement could be broken down into three categories: A) Engaged – you pick up the trash, B) Not Engaged – you walk by the trash, or C) Actively Disengaged – you threw the trash on the ground. As he described these categories, I began to consider how this framework could be applied to peoples’ “Peace Engagement” levels. Here’s what I came up with:
1) Engaged – You show love and compassion for all of your fellow human beings. You care about the well-being of other people, no matter if they are your friend, foe, complete stranger, or even that person who is driving 10 miles under the speed limit in front of you. These feelings are expressed by your words (you speak kindly to others, don’t gossip behind others’ backs, and never disrespect others, no matter the circumstance). Your positive words then translate to action (you act in a spirit of service to others, putting others before yourself. You always treat everyone the way you would want them to treat you).
2) Not Engaged – You don’t see the point or value in putting others before yourself. Most of your thoughts throughout the day are about yourself. Do I look good right now? How can I entertain myself today? Why is this person driving so slowly, don’t they know I need to get to work on time?! Your actions are also aimed at self-gratification. Your primary reason for work is money and material gain. You spend your money on material possessions that make you happy. You spend your leisure time doing things that are self-indulgent: watch T.V., go to the movies, go on vacations, etc. Nobody helps you, so why should you spend your time or money helping others?
3) Actively Disengaged – It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and you feel that in order to be successful, you have to put down anyone who gets in your way. You feel that certain types of peoples’ lives are more important than others. You pre-judge other people based on their demographics. If you feel that someone does you wrong, you make sure to get even with them. Your swerve in front of the person driving 10 mph under the speed limit and give them the middle finger in order to “teach them a lesson.” You feel that peace and love are a bunch of BS, that evil and violence are the reality and their continuance is inevitable.
As I personally reflect, I know that while I strive to be “Engaged” in building peace at all times, I presently switch between all three categories, depending on the circumstance. I think that, until we critically analyze our thoughts in this way, we are simply a product of our experience and environment. Once we personally identify our level of peace engagement, we become enlightened and empowered to act. In fact, it becomes our personal responsibility to take our newly found knowledge and act in a positive fashion to become more peaceful.
As you reflect on these different categories, I ask you a few important questions:
1) What Engagement category do you feel you currently fit into?
2) What are some other examples of behaviors that would demonstrate someone being “Engaged,” “Not Engaged,” or “Actively Disengaged” in building peace?
3) What’s one thing you can start doing to be more “Engaged” in building peace?