Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Creating Peace...

My minister at my local UU church has been doing a series of sermons on peacemaking to coincide with the UUA's recent adoption of peacemaking as a UU Statement of Conscience. Last Sunday's sermon was on interpersonal peacemaking. How to be peaceful at the local level, with those people in our lives we come in contact with regularly- our family, our friends, our neighbors. My minister suggested that we come to know our neighbors as we know ourselves and that this would heal many of the problems that arise between folks. For when you know someone more intimately, you see their humanness and are able to find common ground.

I agree with my minister on his idea of finding common ground and understanding as a way to strive toward peace with others. What came to mind for me as he was delivering his sermon though is I don't think finding common ground is so simple. Many people carry around their personal agendas like a badge of honor and it is usually the first thing you notice or find out about someone after meeting them. It may be a political affiliation or an environmental stance. The way they believe their children should be educated, a gender or race bias, or a religious belief. These agendas get in the way of dialogue. It can be hard to have meaningful dialogue when each party continually falls back on their agenda rather than looking for common ground.

I feel peace can be created if folks check their agendas when first meeting others and allow a relationship based on the common ground of being human to develop with the focus on living and loving. It then becomes possible to bridge the gap through authentic and caring conversations. This can be a difficult task I know when the person you are coming to know refuses to step back from their positions for just a moment to give peace a chance. Trying to stay present and see the humanness of someone who is pushing their agenda at you while you try and have dialogue or see the good in them can test your will. But this effort is worth it. Putting aside your agenda long enough by example, may cause the other person to do the same and thus cause a bond to form, leading to true peace and compassion. Once this bond is formed, people can then begin to slowly open up and let their true selves be known surrounded with the spirit of love.

I have many friends whom care about me even though we have huge political or religious differences. These friendships were borne out of care for one another first and then respect and understanding as we revealed our true selves to one another. Because we respected one another, we were allowed our differences without an expectation of needing to mend those differences. It can be hard to come to hate someone you have loved just because you later find out they have a different way of seeing the world. Just as we love our children for how they are different from us, this to we can do with our friends and neighbors.

Create peace in your relationships, create peace in this world.

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the hearts.

-From the UU hymnal

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