Wednesday, September 15, 2010

World Peace Day

I received a notice from Marcia Kearl Johnson (inspirational writer) on facebook, reminding me that September 21 is International Day of Peace or World Peace Day.

It reminded me of the days of Peace Marches and demonstrations. They were fun and dramatized the rebellious, better than thou spirit of the 60's. Often, in a rather violent manner, we demanded peace.

I've mellowed much since then, but I haven't given up on peace.

World Peace Day has been commemorated since 1981. A peace bell is rung at the United Nations. On it are inscribed the words, "Long Live Absolute World Peace". The day is marked by the putting down of arms by many warring factions. Medicine and food can then be provided more freely to the innocent.

I sigh as I think, "Why restrict this to one day?" Humankind's absurdity is a puzzle I may never solve.

The following is a modified version of a previous post. (I can't believe I'm already plagiarizing myself.) Hope you enjoy.

MC: "Now for the last and most important question in this contest: What is your greatest desire?" The handsome man in his stunning black tuxedo stands aside and listens intently, trying hard to look formal, almost business-like and asexual, as he contemplates the intellectual response about to emerge from the voluptuous, perhaps not so innocent and not so asexual young woman. The theatre fills with silence and tension as she seriously and genuinely considers her answer.
Miss Anywhere Contestant: "My greatest desire in the whole world is that there be world peace."
(She smiles demurely, blinks repeatedly, then cutely and humbly bows as she displays, and the camera accents, her lovely cleavage.)

"Yeah. Yeah." (Loud and prolonged applause.)
I've depicted a stereotype. I know. Please forgive me. I am no fan of beauty contests. My days in the women's liberation movement of the past left an indelible antagonism towards events that dehumanize and objectify women. But, I'm not as passionately opposed anymore. So many things seem much more important. Take peace for example.

We've all got our favorite cliches for gloom and doom - "The world is in shambles." "The world has gone mad." "What is this world coming to?" It's hard not to allow negativity to take hold. Daily, I struggle to limit the amount of news I read about or listen to, yet I feel inundated by the catastrophic level of violence that plagues us. It's so hard to stay positive, yet, I feel we must.

I've poked fun at what may seem like a simplistic, unrealistic and lame answer by the fictional beauty contestant. Nevertheless, I may respond in a similar manner if asked the same question.

Why not envision a world devoid of war, of strife, of conflict over our differences? I choose to imagine a peace-filled earth, where there is true freedom to be, where there is no need to fight, where "Live and let live" expands from being a slogan for Alcoholics Anonymous and becomes the world's motto.

"If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world."
Thomas Merton

My middle school daughter reluctantly but proudly showed me her high grade, given for a sweet essay she had written. In it she wrote about how to solve the world's troubles. Her solution offered wisdom and spirituality beyond her years. "Cultivate peace within", was her essential message; one with which all the masters agree and which at my advanced age at the time (40+) I had not yet internalised.

I get it now. Though I am not yet able to maintain an inner peace that remains constant regardless of what goes on around me, I've come to realize that peace begins with me. Come mid-morning I create space and time for peace. It doesn't always visit for long. My mind still swirls and twists in rambling thoughts as I sit in meditation. But, there are those moments, when it quiets and I am left with the internal silence in which my true identity is stored, and peace abides.

Throughout the day I try to return to that space, to consciously be in the moment and appreciate its wonder. It's still a struggle, my journey is far from over and I still too easily fall prey to the illusion of being separate from others, but I've caught glimpses of peace within. I must continuously help it grow.

"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peacework."
Tich Naht Hanh

I encounter, as you probably do too, countless instances of challenges to my peace daily. Mother (Alzheimer's) accuses me of taking her purse. Mother-in-law(dementia) complains about the pain from her gall bladder surgery, which took place about 70 years ago. Husband accuses me of being argumentative. (Me? I dipute this!) Simultaneously, the phone rings (solicitor), the doorbell rings (UPS), the dog barks right after I dropped a bottle of apple juice on my tile floor. The bottle smashes, the juice splashes...on everything.
If I remember, I smile.

Smiling relaxes the muscles of the face, and I imagine other muscles follow suit. Then some endorphins get released and you have given your body and spirit a chance at peace. So, when you're feeling like your world is collapsing, smile. "Smile, though your heart is breaking...", you know the song.

This may sound easier than it really is. It's hard to smile when you're sad, angry, or upset but definitely worth a try if it can restore you, center you and bring you peace in the moment. It doesn't hurt, it's free and some say it's contagious.

Perhaps I am, simplistic, unrealistic and more than a little lame... still, I wish you peace.


  1. i will take your peace...and many times our peace is easily shattered...i know one day there iwll be peace...though i am not sure about world peace before then...we are far too self centered in this age...

  2. peace starts within ourselves... if we have a peaceful day, chances are we take better decisions and spread better vibes... and, that is the one and daily contribution we can make towards world peace!

  3. yes! the theme of my little novel.
    thanks for those great quotes!

    Warm Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

  4. Internal peace is the best I hope for any more. The world must do as it must, but I can do what I will.

  5. I'll all for "doing the peace" thing day in and day out, breath by breath. And I'm grateful for the big moment reminders.

  6. Peace begins from within.... Enjoyed reading it. I see you are slowly coming out of your shell... a wonderful sense of humor....

  7. What a wholesome post, dear Myrna and peace is the link in all the snippets. Internal peace is something that keeps one calm while caught in a traffic or jammed in a crowd. I wish you peace today, tomorrow and always.

    Joy always,

  8. Beautiful - peace from within is lasting. Just became a follower of your blog :D

  9. Myrna, thanks so much for posting this.

    I have been a pacifist since I was old enough to understand what that was. I grew up in the Vietnam War era and spent much time as a young person at anti-war demonstrations. (It was also a good place to meet cute guys; hey, I am not perfect! lol)

    The concept of peace has been so much on my mind lately and I have have been trying to promote it on my blog. I put a small banner on my sidebar with a picture of a baby's hand to remind us all that it begins there - we have to teach our children.

    How did I not remember that September 21 was World Peace Day?!? In that remarkable way that coincidences happen, that is also my birthday!!


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  11. Happy World Peace Day everyone! Yes, peace really does begin inside each of us.