Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Demon Within

The Demon Within, Washington, DC, April 2007, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 32mm, Exposure 1/4 sec @ f4.2, ISO 800, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Step 3. Heal a Piece of Your Anger
{continuing the series, by Susan Skog}

"Peace is as much about getting the bombs out of our own hearts as out of the Pentagon budget." -- Colman McCarthy

It's normal to get angry. But as peacemakers, our challenge is to channel that frustration into something greater. Think of your anger as rocket fuel that can launch your dreams--not scald people around you. View it as a surge of energy to create what you really want and need. Practice breathing deeply, disarming yourself and asking, "Why am I so angry? What do I really want?"

If we can transform our anger into a higher dream, as King did, we take a stand for peace. We step away from the vise of anger and step into the lives we really want.

I think this is such a key step. In the course of my normal day, I often hear people belittle others opinions, even go so far as to call people who feel a certain way "stupid, ignorant, or fanatics". What's interesting, is that I hear it on both sides of the conservative-liberal "divide". Each side, saying the same angry judgments against the other. And as for talk radio or most of the news media ... well, it is very hard to find calm, objective analysis these days. Does anyone truly gain from such exchanges?

This is where, for all of the desire to change the world, and somehow, magically, bring peace, we must first work on our own negative feelings and volcanic anger. What good can it possibly do to preach how others should behave, when we are not modeling it ourselves. People may react to words, but they internalize demonstrated, principled action.

This was the power of Gandhi, King, and Mandella. Not just words, but actions that were aligned with those words.

So while you look outside yourself to see what is broken in the world, peer deeply inside and begin your work within. For before you can march for peace, rally for peace, demonstrate for peace, or sit-in for peace, you must be peaceful.

Otherwise, it is nothing but empty rhetoric and wasted energy, and perhaps worse; the incongruity might turn off those who would otherwise wish to have followed you. You could have the ability to inspire others, but that requires an internally consistent message.

As Gandhi famously told his followers: "We must be the change we wish to see." In this case, it means we must ourselves be peaceful within and without. We must be peace.

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