• Candles

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    As I think about the news about the horrific shooting in Orlando, my heart is heavy.

    It is heavy with grief at the loss of life and the sorrow of those left behind. But it’s also heavy with fear.

    Not fear that this might happen to me or someone I love. Despite the coverage tragedies like this get in the news, it’s still infinitely more dangerous for me to get in my car and go to the store. So I choose not to give that fear a foothold.

    The fear I feel right now, and that I feel every time something like this happens, is that fear and anger and hatred will win. That our response, as individuals and as a society, will take us one more step towards creating a future for our children driven by fear and separation.

    What world will our children inherit?

    I talk a lot in my work about how to feel more energized and alive, and how to put that energy to work to make the world a better place. But underlying even that, there’s something that feels infinitely more compelling, infinitely more urgent.

    It’s not just about how we experience our lives individually. It’s about what world we’re creating to hand down to future generations.

    As much as the idealist in me would love to believe that there is some permanent state of peace we can create in the world, I think it’s more accurate to say that a state of peace (or lack of it) is something that gets created and recreated, year after year and generation after generation.

    Peace or fear isn’t a binary, either/or option. It’s more of a continuum. And every day, we move more towards one or the other. That’s true on a micro level (“How do I feel today?”) and a macro level (“What is the zeitgeist of the society we’re creating?”)

    Every time a shooting like this happens, or some terrorist attack, I can almost viscerally feel the collective shift on the continuum towards fear and separation.

    But here’s the thing. Fear and separation may feel like the best option in the short term, but it’s never a long-term solution. Fear and separation only creates more of the same.

    As Gandhi said, an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.

    The inner work of peace

    At its deepest level, what drives my work is a call to be part of continually shifting that continuum towards peace. (I’m using “peace” as a kind of shorthand for a wide range of concepts like love, compassion, connectedness, and justice, not just the absence of conflict.)

    And that shift starts at the individual level. I describe it as “the inner work of peace.”

    The inner work of peace is a recognition that peace begins inside each and every one of us. The more we come from a place of love, compassion, and a sense of interconnection, the more that colors both our perception of the world and how we show up in it.

    The more grounded we are in a sense of peace, the more that ripples out into the world around us. Not through some magical transformation, but by the choices we make, the actions we take, and the interactions we have with others.

    I’m committed to being a voice for peace. I’m committed to doing whatever I can to plant the seeds for a future I can feel good about handing down to future generations.

    So while events like the shooting in Orlando bring up my fear, they also reinforce my belief that more of the same isn’t, and can’t be, the answer.

    The answer is, and can only be, peace. And that starts with me. And you. And each and every one of us.

    What can you do?

    Achieving peace can feel huge and insurmountable. And from an individual perspective, that’s probably true, if you’re only looking at a global scale. But change doesn’t have to be about one giant flip of the switch. Over and over we have seen that the most significant changes of our time have happened because drop by drop, person by person, the tide started to shift.

    There is a collective, cumulative potential for change that inherently starts with the individual.

    One of my favorite quotes, typically attributed to Gandhi, encourages us to “be the change you want to see in the world.” I want to paraphrase that and say, “be the peace you want to see in the world.”

    The opportunities to be the peace are infinite. You take a step towards peace when…

    • You learn to love yourself.
    • You start to treat yourself with self-compassion.
    • You commit to treating others with compassion.
    • You cultivate a more grounded presence.
    • You change a destructive behavior.
    • You step out of the fear story and into the possibility story.
    • You focus on the opportunities for gratitude in your life.
    • You notice and shift your judgments and prejudices.
    • You forgive.
    • You let go of resentment.

    That’s just a tiny smattering of the opportunities to move your internal environment in the direction of peace. There are a bazillion more just waiting to be embraced and explored.

    If you want to see peace in the world, it starts with you.

    Because peace is an inside job.

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