In a recent conversation with a friend, I asked what he thought people wanted most. His answer wasn’t fame, prosperity, or even love. His answer was peace. Peace has been touted through the centuries by heads of state, self-help gurus, and all of the major religions. If peace is such a worthwhile and sought-after objective, why do abusive relationships, overcrowded prisons, and warring nations still exist? As a whole, haven’t we evolved into a more civilized society? I’d like to think so, but all I have to do to find proof to the contrary is turn on the TV or scan the selection of movies at the local theater.
It’s a sad admission, but violence, perversion, and destruction have become standard staples of the “entertainment” industry. Have we been force-fed these commodities, or have they become a reflection of our collective state of mind? I’d like to believe the former, but supply is a response to demand – so blaming the various media outlets may have been convincing initially, but they’re simply continuing to sell what we buy. And that’s a pretty startling revelation based on the options for entertainment over the last several years. Even The Weather Channel has responded to this demand through stories of nature’s most destructive and devastating moments.
So how do we turn the tide on the seemingly unrelenting waves of hostility and depravity? If the desire for peace is so strong, then why do we actively and intentionally bombard ourselves with images of violence, hate, and moral corruption? It’s almost as if we’ve declared war on peace! Sadly, I believe the appetite for violence is a direct reflection of our states of mind. And violence begets violence until we seek help in understanding and overcoming the war within. External war will continue as long as there is internal war. Likewise, peace in life can only be achieved through peace of mind. It’s a delusion to believe otherwise.
Addressing the circumstances and beliefs that fuel our mental violence takes courage and commitment. It means putting yourself permanently in the driver’s seat by accepting complete responsibility for your mental health. Along with this responsibility comes an admission that the only things we’ve truly been victimized by are our unexamined beliefs. And that admission shifts our focus from the external to the internal – the only actual place where peace can conquer war.
Putting yourself behind the wheel on the road to peace is exhilarating. In the words of author and philosopher Byron Katie, “Peace is underrated. There’s nothing more exciting than peace!”