Blessed are the peacemakers
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household
We are of peace. Always
Anna – The Visitors
I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.
We have made a covenant with death…We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
This is not a rhetorical question and, it seems to me that, in the main and for the present, the answer should be negative.
Jesus does not say: “blessed those who are willing to become peacemakers”. He means what Yoda meant when he cautioned Luke Skywalker: “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try”.
We are not peaceworthy. When everyone refuses to go to war, to fight to appease one’s greed, to use violence, aggressiveness to narcissistically defend their ideas and prejudices (racism, patriotism, scientism, consumerism, neo-liberalism, my god vs. your god, etc.), then there will be true peace.
This is the original meaning of “the meek shall inherit the earth” and it is the kind of spiritual revolution that we need: one that brings us unity, equality, dignity, justice, brotherhood and freedom, which are the main ingredients of a lasting peace.
Nobody in society will have the kind of space in their lives, space in their homes, space in their careers for any kind of culture at all, because we will be having three or four jobs to make ends meet. Lack of cultural interest will soon impoverish society, make it more intolerant, and make it more difficult to live. It will constrain our dreams and constrain the dreams of our children. It’s a new kind of economy where there are no middle classes at all. The place where this is heading is a strange society with a tiny elite and a long struggling, straggling line which is the rest of us, a new proletariat
Not peace at any price (pax romana, pax germanica, pax americana, etc.), only the kind of peace compatible with human dignity: the peace of a sovereign individual, not of a tamed beast of burden. No political authority, not even a global, totalitarian one, could ensure a lasting peace on Earth. They would call it peace, but it would be anything but pleasant: To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace (Tacitus).
Although most people are unsuspectingly enslaved to routines and structures (“because that’s the way it is”) that were meant to enhance human life, the chief purpose of civilization remains to bring about abundance, joy, security to everyone, as well as to provide opportunities to deepen one’s understanding of oneself and of reality. Happy, fulfilled people are, on the whole, peaceful people: if I am not at peace with myself, how can I be at peace with others?
Being a peace with myself….I wonder…how do I achieve such a blessed state? It is quite simple, really. I must refrain from expanding myself at the expense of others. Being bigger than you, smarter than you, faster than you, stronger than you, more popular than you: that is the recipe for perpetual frustration and rationalized violence.
Easier said than done. Sometimes I overcome my fears by making others fear me, or by seeking control over their lives (I am not always aware of that).
I crave power and instant gratification, and at the same time I seek some substitute for God and his kingdom, an idol to bow down and serve, a celebrity to worship.
We have been trained to believe lies as if they were true. So those who promise me peace, safety, security, strength, and an escape from death and alienation, I entrust myself to them.
I no longer fear that my life will go on unnoticed. I no longer need to justify my existence. On the contrary, I can finally associate my self-interest with something I perceive as greater, more noble and, above all, more powerful than me: the way to salvation (or so I want to believe).
I would do anything to remain significant, to enjoy the freedom to act without fear: let them take control of my life. It intoxicates me, until my anger and resentment will be building up again. It’s all about me. What I want to see, is all I can see. I live in a world where nothing matters but my own needs and appetites. I talk almost exclusively about myself and my problems. I am so self-absorbed, so concerned about my suffering and the fact that the universe hates me that I spare little time for others who may have similar troubles, perhaps because of me. I take much and give little: I am like a vacuum, a black hole. There is no balance in me. I am acting like a sociopath and, guess what, I mostly come across sociopaths. It must be some kind of karmic curse (or poetic justice?). How should I know?
It’s always someone else’s fault: scapegoats all over the place when I need them, for I must remain good. I am aware that we are all good and evil to varying degrees, but I am mostly good, I know that, I keep repeating it to myself. I mustn’t forget that. I am the quintessential victim, never or anyway seldom the perpetrator. The ones up above, instead, those leeches, they are the evil ones, and we’ve got nothing in common. Compared to them, I’m a saint.
I should overcome all this by balancing the evil present in me, by refusing to go along with and rely on a wicked system based on abominations.
I should listen when other people talk to me, instead of pretending. I should accept my fears in order to conquer them. I should acknowledge my shadow in order to become more aware and more tolerant and considerate of other people’s tribulations. I should search for understanding. I should tell the truth. I should stop hoarding for the future, like a distrustful, cynical, fearful, insecure little man: my survival instinct manifests itself as greed. But life is a flow and whatever or whoever interrupts this flow is courting death. Like all necrophiles, I am saddled with a poor self-esteem and an exaggerated fear of rejection. I am just like most human beings. How can I be peaceworthy when I venerate death? I take from life and try not to give back, because I am so scared of death itself, and of the future, and of strangers, that I’ve become a living dead. I expect nothing and obtain nothing, I expect the worst and that’s what I get. How silly is that? And because nearly everyone acts in much the same way, Earth has become a living hell for us or, at best, a purgatory. If we deny our neighbor, we deny ourselves and will cease to exist in any meaningful way. The more we fight each other, the more we lose ourselves.
So, no, we don’t deserve peace and it is not peace what we will get. For as long as our hearts don’t change, our societies and our élites will be dysfunctional, iniquitous, greedy and violent, like us.
By Jacob Needleman
One of our earliest founders lived well before Columbus discovered America. The Great Peacemaker is said to have been born in the Great Lakes region of North America sometime around 1000 ad. His people, the Haudenosaunee, now called the Iroquois, were beset by endless conflict. Village fought village. Blood raids led to retaliation. No one believed there was a way out. Then came the time of the Great Peacemaker.
… When he comes of age, the Great Peacemaker tells his grandmother and his mother that his time has come to seek out other tribes and nations and bring the message of peace. He sets off in his canoe, scanning the horizon for rising smoke. Day after day he sees nothing, for all the settlements are now hidden in the hills to protect themselves from the war parties plaguing the land.
Finally, the Great Peacemaker sees hunters running along a barren shore. He beaches his canoe and says to them, “Go back to your settlement and tell your chief that a new and good message has come, the message of peace that is power.”
When the tribal chief hears their news, he asks the hunters, “Who told you this?”
“He is called the Great Peacemaker in the world.”
The chief wonders at this and asks, his eyes turning toward the stockades that hold his starving, quarreling people, “How could it be? From what source will such peace come?”
The hunters reply simply: “It will come.”
The hunters’ strength of conviction fully opens the chief’s mind to his own faith that in the world of man there is a force of peace that can come to the people if only they will turn their minds to it.
“Truly,” he says, “this is a wonderful thing. This news of itself will bring the beginning of peace to our people if once they can hear it and understand it and believe it. It will begin to free their minds of the hatred that comes from fear.”
The Great Peacemaker passed from settlement to settlement, and the same scene was repeated with each of the chiefs as they were quickly convinced of the power of peace.
Why should these proud nations and warriors so readily accept the message of peace? Not because they were afraid of war. The message is accepted not only in the hope of being freed of something negative, but also because they glimpse a peace that is infinitely more honorable than war and more active. This peace demands a higher level of courage and sacrifice than war. It is neither static nor dull; nor is it a fantasy of endless pleasure. It is a force that can harmonize the actions and impulses of human life in all their multiplicity. It is a unifying energy that paradoxically allows each element to flourish in its individuality. It is the call to serve that which is far greater than oneself. Who would not agree to this peace?
This is just one part of the longer Haudenosaunee story. It tells of a messenger, sent by the Creator, who leads the people back to their true path and guides their creation of a constitution known as the Great Peace. Its laws enable humanity to live as one family and to permit the power of divine peace and harmony to enter their lives. The Great Peace has ruled Haudenosaunee society since then…
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