As conflict boils in Syria, the world remembers September 11th, a consequence of past failure to construct peace. Stepping up to responsibility, several organizations are making collective efforts to create peace in action now. “Deep systematic changes need to happen without delay,” Mikehail Gorbachev urged in a meeting at the United Nations in Geneva around the 20th anniversary of Green Cross last April. Green Cross, an organization founded in 1993 by Gorbachev as a type of “Red Cross” for the earth, is marking its 20th anniversary with conferences and events including the 7th annual Earth Dialogue at the United Nations in Geneva on September 3rd. The second UN High Level Forum on theCulture of Peace is held at the United Nations in New York. Pope Francis announced a worldwide day of prayer and fasting on Sept 7th this past Sunday. September 21st is the UN declared International Day of Peace with events being held worldwide. This blog is the first of a series of articles focusing on international and intercultural approaches to peace.
Moving Minds to Peace
Concern for our world and its sustainability is a forefront thought in humanity, caretaker of this earth. Yet, transforming peace thought into peace action may require a reexamination of our language driving our ideas. Since all actions begin through word-thought, aligning our minds to a genuine understanding of peace guides us into sustainable peace. For example, if you explain peace as the absence of war, you will never have peace. Instead, you will focus on war while uttering the word “peace”, because when you define a concept as the opposite of another entity, the concept has no independent identity and is therefore reliant on the opposite for its existence. As an entity on its own, genuine peace is the state of mutual respect and caring. In the absence of peace, destruction and violence are possible. Peace with earth means to be respectful and caring of our Mother Earth.
“We forgot how to be in care with Mother Earth”, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, host and producer of First Voices Indigenous Radio, reminds us, “When you are in care with someone, you treat them with peace, dignity and respect.” This past spring, Ghosthorse was invited to speak in Scandinavia as part of international movement to bring peace with the earth through Green Cross. Ghosthorse reveals that the mindset of hierarchy and dominance is the antithesis to living peace. Ownership based on subjugation, opposed to mutual respect and care, creates the environment for violation, violence and volatility. Our home, the earth, suffers from all these symptoms of a supremacy attitude. “Peace on Earth” perpetuates the sense of separateness and pecking order (as in “on” similar to “over”) that drives a warring mentality, whereas “Peace with Earth” moves us toward the harmony and balance that we intuitively yearn for.
Ghosthorse struggles to convey his message of peace outside of his native Lakatoa language that uses no nouns only verbs to emphasize the living relationships that all entities on the earth share. “Tree roots consciousness has to do with everything being alive – not one single thing being dead so that that type of peace is always in motion.” Ghosthorse explains, and then continues to educate me on my own language, English, elucidating the Latin roots of Roman conquerors. In Lakota, they literally buried the hatchet and removed word for war from common language. Without the word, the thought is difficult to conceive.
Ghosthorse points out that the here-to-date logical approach to caring for the earth is a key problem impeding peace with earth. Much like the oneness of life described in the movie “Avatar”, what indigenous people call “tree-root wisdom” aligns us with the principles of life. “It’s precisely because we need new ways of thinking that the ancient question of who we are takes on a significance that is greater than ever,” Gregg Braden, forefront author bridging science and ancient wisdom, writes in the introduction to his new book, Deep Truth. The inner intuitive mind knows the truth of our connectedness and how to bring the earth and her inhabitants back into a harmonious, thriving life.
Albert Einstein, genius of the 20th century, shares the concept that man’s greatest wisdom lives in the heart, not in the brain, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Basically, we need to allow the language in our hearts to drive a change in our thinking that forms actions sustaining peace with earth and one another.
Here is a Peace-in-Action challenge: Pay attention to the words and expressions that you use. Attempt to shift your language (even in your thoughts) to words that move toward caring, respect and harmony.
Follow Suna Senman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sunasenman