One of the skills we lack in our culture is an understanding of peace. We are surrounded by examples of people who demonstrate the ego’s need to be right. The ego makes itself right by making ‘other’ wrong. This is a very dominant mind set. We see it even in the roots of our language. It is very easy to see – just watch TV or open any newspaper. It is almost all about what’s wrong and who is to blame. This is the ego story in action and it’s there very simply because that’s what draws an audience. That’s what people are looking for so they can find some small satisfaction in being better than.
The biggest issue with this outlook is that it fosters conflict. When we bring such an outlook to much of our lives, we are constantly faced with irritating and upsetting situations. But we don’t realize it is our response to the situation that is the cause of the upset, not the situation itself. This is the root of virtually all conflict and personal suffering.
It is also why peace is so elusive. And why wise people tell us peace starts within. Until we see through this conflict machine, we will continue to create conflict unintentionally. The anti-war movement is a classic example. They are making war with war. This is not the way to peace.
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
— Mother Teresa
Remember that it takes 2 to tango. All it takes is for one side of any conflict to step out completely and there is no more conflict. When one side is no longer attacking or defending, the other side has no need of it either. This is true of any relationship and any conflict, no matter how long held.
It’s not easy to see past the ego at first as we tend to be so closely identified with it and our story about the world. But if we can just step back a little and ask ourselves where this response is arising from, we can begin to choose. We can begin to step out of the drama.
It can be difficult to debate a subject and stay out of the ego. Are you trying to take a position or are you trying to communicate? It’s a skill worthy to develop to become a better human being. To become a person who brings knowledge and peace rather than conflict and dissension. It’s your choice.
Peace begins within.