According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in 2008, 63 armed conflicts around the globe resulted in 56,000 casualties. In 2014 six years later 180,000 people died worldwide as a result of 42 conflicts.

Certainly, our battle-to-kill ratio has improved. But surely it remains one of the great mysteries of life that, with all the advances in technology, human knowledge, and familiarity between people of vastly different cultures, the human community remains unable to settle major disputes without resorting to more and more efficient means of slaughter.

What is it about human beings that makes us so ready to take up arms against our fellow occupants of this small planet we share as our common home? Why is it so difficult for us to get along? And why, when we do not get along, do we almost inevitably end up resorting to violence in a futile attempt to settle our differences? Is it really true that, with all our ingenuity, learning, and technical skill, killing one another remains the best way we have to solve international tensions?

Does violence ever ultimately bring lasting peace?

Paul wrote to the church of Galatia,

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. (Galatians 6:7)

When one of his followers who was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane drew his sword and struck a slave of the high priest in an attempt to defend Jesus, Jesus said to him,

‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’ (Matthew 26:52)

Violence begets violence.

There is too much viciousness in the human community. It is too easy to demonize “the other” and to approach the one who is different from a defensive demanding posture that requires them to change in order to fit my image of how the world should be. It is a short step from these attitudes to acts of violence.

The only hope for peace is for me to find peace in my own heart and to sow that peace wherever I go. When I do not return an angry word, I sow peace. When I stop clinging, grasping, and fighting for my little peace of the pie, I am spreading peace. When I do not argue angrily for my position at all costs, a little bit of peace sprouts in the world. At whatever level my influence extends, by my words, my actions, and my attitudes, I am choosing every day to create a world of greater violence or growing peace.

Jesus pointed to the path to peace when he proclaimed,

‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

When I touch within myself that place that finds satisfaction and contentment beyond “bread”, I no longer need to possess. I no longer need to demand; I am free of the determination to get my way. I no longer need you to agree with me in order to live alongside you in peace and heartfelt respect.

The only way I know to get to this place within myself is through silent sitting prayer. When I mediate I practice simply being with life as it is. Thoughts and feelings arise; they come and they go. I do not need to fight them, resist them, control them, or get rid of them. Life simply is. I am taking a momentary vacation from striving to be in charge. I am practicing letting go of control. I am not trying to get somewhere; I am simply opening to the reality of what is because I trust that at the core of reality as it is, I encounter the presence of God. Love and peace grow in my heart when I stop needing life to conform to my wishes, needs, and demands.

When I rest in this place of peace within myself, I return to the world with a greater ability to live as a peacemaker and to support the flowering of peace.

So, my peace plan is simple. Stop. Stand still. Take a deep breath. Do not resist. Open to this present moment just as it is and allow yourself to be. Then go forth into the world and share that peace that is within you wherever you may be.