On the morning after the United States 2004 national elections, Cheri Huber sent these thoughts on peace to the worldwide email list of Living Compassion:
“It is time to reconcile all beings in the world.
Peace is no longer just a good idea, a dream without any real belief.
We can no longer hope that war and violence can defend and protect.
We must choose peace if we are to survive.
We must make a radical turn from the right, and a radical turn from the left.
We must make our way back to center. Not a political center, but the center of our being.
We must become a good friend to those who agree with us and those who do not.
We must invite everyone to the table; we must sit together, share, learn, listen, open our hearts, and, together, move to the place that is the most compassionate to all.”
That radical center, that center of our being, is a place that is not against anything. That is perhaps what is most radical about it. Many of us who are committed to peace, passionate about peace, activists for peace, conduct our quest for peace from a conviction that we are against an adversary, and we know who that adversary is. We wage war for peace, and peace eludes us.
St. Francis said, “Do not try to change the World. Change worlds.” He did not mean escape, write off the world and walk away. He spent most of his life walking into the world, talking with people, engaging them. He did not try to wrench the people or the world into some shape he was convinced they should take. Rather, he greeted all with “Pace e bene”: Peace and Good. He simply lived in a world in which he and everyone else belonged.
T.S. Eliot describes: “A condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything.” The radical center. The place lived from by Francis, by Clare, by Gandhi, by Martin Luther King, Jr. Costing us our identity, our righteousness, our separateness, our against-ness. Costing us all the mean victories.
Yet it creates a universe of possibility, generosity and freedom. A woman in Kenya sees the devastating result of deforestation and begins to plant trees. A mother in Washington, DC, befriends the young man who killed her son. Communities around the world rally to support local organic farmers and establish farmers’ markets. Indigenous people in Ecuador seek partners in the United States to save the rainforest that is their home. A group of Zen monks learns that children in an African slum need food, and they say, “We can help.”
To be sure, even when the path of peace seems clear, the work can be demanding and challenging. It takes practice. Peace is a practice. And, it is exciting, rewarding and the most fun a human being can have. We choose peace; it is a matter of survival. We invite you to join Living Compassion at the table of peace.
Check out Cheri Huber at www.LivingCompassion.org.