War is complicated, but peace doesn’t have to be.
Though you wouldn’t know it to look at politics and state diplomacy, there is power in simplicity, which is too often mistaken for “ease.” How many of us struggle with that difference between “knowing” and “embodying” on a daily basis? Peace, I contend, is a matter of perspective, and we can each choose to shift our hearts, minds, and actions in that direction, for ourselves and the world.
I personally encountered this as a teenager in Cyprus, when in the course of a few hours my whole world was thrown into chaos by a war fueled by old hatreds and a refusal to see commonalities. I made a choice then, to be the author of my own story, instead of allowing these events to ingrain its version of the world into me. This transformative experience led me to my life’s work: teaching how awareness and relationships can make a positive difference in the world.
We all have our own beliefs systems that derive from a variety of sources and experiences. These beliefs shape our thought patterns and emotions, which in turn influence our actions. When we act unconsciously – based solely in those emotions – we can often behave in ways that are destructive or disengaged. If we work to expand our perspectives, we develop an ability to self-regulate – to choose to act consciously, in accordance with our higher selves, and the world around us.
How do we expand our perspectives? One of the most essential things we can do is have meaningful conversations. This involves opening ourselves to listen more deeply and engage one another whole-heartedly. Having a meaningful conversation does not mean dispensing advice or convincing another of your way of thinking; there is no winning or losing in an authentic exchange. In a meaningful conversation, we experience the value and truth of other perspectives. This gives a foundation for moving forward creatively and collectively.
Peace begins with us. It is only after we can come from a place of groundedness — having examined our own beliefs and perspectives — that we can be present in a way that allows us to engage authentically with others. We have more in common than we can even comprehend, and we all have the choice to respond to conflict in ways that heal rather than destroy. Once we make that shift in our consciousness, with a sense of purpose of how we each contribute to the bigger whole, we can finally begin to collectively bring Peace to the world.
I invite you to join me for the Shift Network’s Summer of Peace Summit, Tuesdays from June 28 to September 6, a free online series with the world’s leading peacebuilders, where I will speak more about my own experience with war and the importance of worldviews in cultivating peace. Together, we will discover some practical skills to incorporate into our daily lives to manifest inner and collective peace.