Peace signs and peace demonstrations. Peace in the heart, peace in the home. Peace of mind and peace of spirit. Peace, a state of harmony and calm that is characterized by a lack of violence, can be found in many shapes and forms. The English word was derived more than 700 years ago from the Hebrew word “shalom,” which means safety, prosperity and friendship. Since that time, the word “peace” has been used to connote lack of war, goodwill among others and a calm internal state, among others.
Peace is a universal value, which, like love, compassion, integrity, respect and responsibility, can be found on every continent, every country, every state, city, town and neighborhood. Peace is diverse and knows no nationality, geography, culture or race. As a general rule, the more widespread peace is, the more unity, happiness and accord will exist among tribes, cultures, governments, families and friends.
Inner peace is a particularly prized state, since someone who experiences inner peace is better prepared to deal with personal and global challenges and discord, can enjoy true happiness regardless of what is going on around him or her, and experiences a genuine state of calm, joy and understanding.
In addition, there are a variety of peace prizes awarded to leaders in the peace community. The most remarkable of these are the Nobel Peace Prize, given annually by the Nobel committee to a person or persons who actively work for peace, and the International Gandhi Peace Prize, which was named after Mahatma Gandhi, the former leader of India, and is awarded to people and institutions that contribute to political, social and economic peace through their non-violent methods. Notably, these distinguished awards can be earned by anyone, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or nationality.
Likewise, the United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan conflict management group created by Congress “to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence.” The center works to save lives and increase the government’s ability to manage conflicts. Peace is a powerful concept that pervades government institutions all the way down to individual lives.
In addition, the idea of peace has spread to schools (Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina), institutions (the Peace Corps), drinks (Peace Coffee), songs (“Imagine” by John Lennon) and more. There are even Twitter and Facebook groups dedicated exclusively to peace. While peace protestors wearing tie-dye t-shirts and waving peace signs were more prominent in the 1960s, symbols of peace continue to proliferate today, in homage to the idea that peace is important, no matter what the year, location or world circumstances.
Parents, caregivers, leaders and individuals who are seeking to create more peace can start with the concept of inner peace.
Ask yourself: How can I create more peace in my life? Where can I be more peaceful and less angry? How can I show others that I am committed to peace? What do I need to let go of or invite into my life? Examining your own life history is a great place to start identifying and spreading peace.
Then, you can share written and verbal stories and songs with children that espouse peace over violence, discuss current world events (both peaceful and violent ones) and their impact on others, and remind your children and family members of the value of peace in the world. When you see acts of anger or violence, be willing to point them out and discuss them. Likewise, when you see acts of peace, be willing to celebrate them.
Further, you can get involved in peaceful activities in your community, whether it is a march for peace or a peaceful cause, a meditation group focused on cultivating inner peace or a nonprofit organization that helps victims of violence get back on their feet. There are a variety of small and large actions you can take to make your household, neighborhood, community and world at large a more peaceful place.
Unfortunately, acts of violence among children – shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Virginia Tech University, among others, as well as the fact that more than 13 million school kids will be bullied this year – sometimes seem to be more prominent than acts of peace. While these horrific incidents serve to spread an environment of mistrust, hatred and confusion, peace, love, compassion, integrity, respect and responsibility can counteract the weight of anger in the world. Applying a peaceful attitude and peaceful actions when dealing with children can help to foster more love and less hate in the world.
At first blush, peace might seem like more of an abstract concept than a tangible goal, but true peace, the kind that starts within, can spread like wildfire, changing ideas, lives and communities in the process.
Peaceful thoughts lead to peaceful words, which lead to peaceful actions. When you find peace in your mind, it’s easier to speak and communicate with peaceful intentions, leading to more peaceful interactions in your life.
Contributed by Rakesh Malhotra, Founder of Five Global Values (www.fiveglobalvalues.com) and Author of “Adventures of Tornado Kid, Whirling Back Home towards Timeless Values”. Passionately determined to uncover the mystery of human behavior, his fascination with the influence of core values on human behavior stems from a career which has seen rise from an entry-level sales job to that of a seasoned CEO. Having worked, lived, or traveled to more than 40 countries, he has been able to study performance and human behavior across all cultures.