Peace on Earth tood will toward all
As I have done in the past, I am writing a column for each of the advent concepts of love, peace, joy and hope or faith. Some use hope some use faith. It is a Christian tradition, but these qualities are also a part of the 29 holidays observed by seven of the major world religions that occur between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15.
There are levels of peace. Our physical needs need to be taken care of before we can experience the higher levels of peace: We need air. Food, water, exercise, touch and rest, and freedom from disease and predators.
We need mental freedom to be able to think for ourselves, choose our own dreams, goals, values and paths. It’s our right to pursue happiness as long as no one is hurt in our process. If we’re in conflicts with others, or are told to do something we don’t believe in, we don’t feel peaceful.
I just saw “Hacksaw Ridge” and was so inspired by Desmond Doss, a World War II combat medic who was a conscientious objector to killing, because of his strong Seventh-day Adventist faith. He was ridiculed and even beaten by some in his platoon, which thought he might not be able to defend them, and take care of them in combat. He stayed absolutely firm in his conviction and one night after a horrible battle, he single-handedly cared for, retrieved, and lowered 75 wounded men in his platoon. I researched this to make sure that it wasn’t fiction. There were some changes, but not about this. He prayed all the time he was working, “Help me save just one more!”
At daybreak, the other side came out to check and make sure that the enemy was dead. As Doss was leaving, a gun was aimed at him, but it jammed. We cannot judge. This also illustrates our need to have spiritual freedom, a founding principle of this nation.
Here’s a thought to think about which could avert religious persecution: Isn’t The One Who Created All able to take care of His teaching, or religion? There’s a biblical example of that in Acts 5:38-39. After the crucifixion, Jesus’ Apostles were jailed for their teaching in Jesus name. They went before the Sanhedrin, the governing body of the Jews, and could have been crucified as well. However, Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, and honored by the people stated this, “Therefore in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. If it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” They were then flogged and released.
It could be that Our Creator chose Gautama Buddha, Hajrat Mohammed, Lao-Tzu, Rama, Abraham, Jesus, and guided the culture in India which later became known as Hinduism. The same Creator gave His prophets/teachers thoughts about Itself and how to make a loving connection with It. It’s the connection that is the goal, and the ideas conveyed by these teachers reflected the culture that the people were a part of. No need to fight about them. If they don’t serve Source, they will fail or be modified.
Maybe it’s enough of a task for us to live the teachings of our teachers to the very best of our ability. We may not feel the need to change others, but if people like what they see, and ask, we could share.
We also have the social need to feel that we live in a community of others around us who accept, appreciate, and consider us in their decision making. We need to feel emotionally safe in this community, knowing that we can trust others in it, that people are honest with us. And we want them to trust us as well.
We want to feel that people will try to understand us and support us when we need help. And we want to be respected.
We just lived through a historical event. The Lakota Nation and Native American tribes of Standing Rock, who in the past had fought each other, came together with the conviction that they needed to stand together to protect their water source and sacred lands. They forgave each other knowing they were stronger together. Then others heard their voices, from the United Nations, to areas all over the world. The United Religions Initiative which has members all over the world solicited and received prayers from URI interfaith groups all over the world, which were delivered to the Tribal Council.
Environmentalists showed up. Thousands of all kinds of people physically went, including 2,000 US veterans. They came to be a human shield to protect the praying coalition from further physical harm that they had received. I teared up on that one… And our dear Hawaii State Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a vet herself, also showed up.
Victory followed. On Sunda, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it had denied the final easement required for the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. They will explore other routes. Pipelines are fragile. In time it is said that they all will leak. This particular one had the potential to poison the water for millions of people.
Then veteran Wesley Clark Jr. knelt with other vets, and apologized to Chief Leonard Crow Dog for the centuries of oppression against Natives. He ended with “We are at your service and we beg for our forgiveness.”
Chief Leonard Crow Dog offered forgiveness and urged for world peace, responding that “We do not own the land, the land owns us.” He was not demeaning, or condemnatory, but affirming and directing. You can Google it. It’s all over the web. It’s everywhere because all those who came together proved the power of non-violence to make effective change.
It is the greatest example we have of non-violence since Martin Luther King Jr. led his non-violent movement for human civil rights, although the Black Lives Matter group has also been highly effective. King was for my generation. This is for the youth of today.
Finally, there is a peace that occurs beyond the mind. A peace that surpasses understanding. It is hard to even use words to describe. It is the experience of oneself being connected to the Love of Creator and all Its manifestations. There is no conflict in oneness with all Life. In this state all our ideas about everything are out of our heads. There is a sense of receiving and giving love to and from everything all at the same time. There is a complete surrender to Love, which loves us as Itself, because we are the extension of Itself.
Perhaps you’d like to try an experiment. Just before you go to sleep at night surrender to your Creator, trusting that you will receive all that you need while your busy mind rests. You can ask for healing, forgiveness, a mended heart, understanding, whatever it is that is keeping you from feeling peace. Have faith in the love of your Creator for you. Give thanks for it. You can trust love. Don’t think any more about it. Then see how you feel the next day. Try it a few days in a row. Try closing your eyes in the middle of the day to ask for help and surrendering to your Beloved to show you what to do. You probably won’t get an answer right away, but you could. It is more likely that at first you will find yourself in a situation that suggests what you can do. It might be in a book, movie, conversation with a friend, a feeling from a sunset …
Peace on Earth good will toward all!
Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, please go to www.haleopio.org