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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Peace, a meditation in 4 parts: Four, Defying Doubters

Those of us who cling to hope in cynical times often face the mockery of a world filled with doubters. Peace is seen by these naysayers as a foolish dream, always doomed to be undermined by what they glibly describe as humanity's combative nature.

Even if they're right, and I don't believe they are, which is the more noble endeavor: to endlessly strive like Sisyphus against impossible odds; or to never aspire to greatness and meekly accept defeat?

We certainly have a steep hill to climb to get to Peace, but recent technological developments should create optimism that the rock is rolling in the right direction. The envisioned path to victory is still taking shape, but the vague outlines of our destination grow crisper each day.

With the improvements in communications, old barriers are collapsing and people are connecting as never before across the crumbling walls. It's becoming harder for those in power to filter our view of others through the warped lens of prejudice.

For those with the curiosity to seek it, a vast amount of information is more freely available than ever before. Given access to an encyclopedic array of resources, we can see, hear and experience the complexity of the world as never before; but we're also interacting with that world more creatively.

The new web-based media tools give us the ability to not only passively absorb other perspectives, but to project our essential selves out into the universe and engage it in a lively conversation. This mixing of varied experiences, in combination with a new capacity to tinker, will help unlock previously unimagined possibilities for progress.

Increased familiarity with other points of view will breed new loyalties, and a contempt for those authorities who continue to perpetuate false divisions. Power dynamics will shift, and old parties will see their influence fade if they don't adjust to these realities. It will be a moment of great opportunity, but also of great danger as the defenders of an inevitably failing status quo will do what they can to hold on to their advantages.

Our best hope lies in staying true to our cause. The moment we put the service of an ideology or political theory ahead of the best interests of humanity and the Earth, we've lost the battle. Our goal is to achieve a peaceful, sustainable existence, not prove the supremacy of a particular viewpoint. If our leaders make demands of us that jeopardize that outcome, we need to find new ones.

Can we win world peace? Changing a question into an exclamation is as simple as altering the inflection of our voice. Rather than asking the cynics what's wrong with wanting peace, love and understanding, we need to insist that nothing is.

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?
by Elvis Costello

As I walk through, this wicked world
Searching for light in the darkness of insanity
I ask myself, is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside
There's one thing I want to know
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?

As I walk on, through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted, sometimes
So, where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony? ... Sweet harmony!
'Cause each time I feel it slip away,
Just makes me want to cry ...
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?

So, where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony? ... Sweet harmony!
'Cause each time I feel it slip away,
Just makes me want to cry ...
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding!
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