I have to say I’m baffled by this on-going quest I hear from so many people for world peace. I know their hearts are in the right place. I “get” that they envision a world where we stop brutalizing each other. Sounds like a great idea. But the blissful image of a harmonious world, besides seeming impossible, could be barking up the wrong vision.

What the heck is peace? Lack of conflict? My experience of the lack of conflict is any relationship where someone is not expressing their own needs and has decided (maybe even unconsciously) that they are perfectly happy with going along with the wishes of their partner or others in their group. So they successfully create “peace.” But at what cost? Or might it be “peace” until months, weeks or years later when all their squelched needs and desires erupt in a not so pretty way that has no resemblance to peace. Or the same denied needs and frustrations manifest as physical symptoms or ailments that batter their own body.

Either way, the compliance required to maintain “peace” takes its violent toll. So what the heck am I saying? Fight with people? Continue violence and wars? Batter others verbally, emotionally or physically? Absolutely not! My point here is that conflict, disagreement, grievances, and frustrations, are all natural consequences of strong, assertive individuals. These can no more be avoided than we can avoid breathing.

All of you who strongly desire peace – how’s it working for you on a personal level? Do you have complete harmony in all your relationships? No? How could you? And if you can’t find it in your personal circle of peeps, how the heck do you think the larger arenas can maintain it? Peace is not the answer. Some of this is just semantics, but I get the sense from people who pray for peace, that they really think they “can get there from here.”

Who wants everyone to get along? How could that ever be possible? I know people who believe that conflict is bad and should be avoided. Good luck trying that.

And others who believe that if everyone else would just see things their way (i.e. the right way), all would be well in the world. Sound familiar? Like someone you know? Or God forbid, like you? As a recovering know-it-all, it sure sounds like me!

What we lack is not world peace – but rather, world awareness; world communication skills; world willingness; world objective perspective; world open-mindedness; world conflict resolution competency. Conflict is what makes the world dynamic and real. Conflict is what births innovative problem solving. Conflict is what helps us build empathy and understanding. Conflict is the juicy substance that we muck through equally with our loved ones and our not so loved ones…to reach a new perspective; an increased awareness…of ourselves and of those around us.

That increased awareness then informs our behavior and our decisions. We develop more empathy and acceptance. And what do we do with that? Do we turn into a doormat to facilitate peace? Hopefully not. But rather, we increase our ability to see from another’s perspective, which ALWAYS improves communication, which in turn gives us a greater ability to resolve conflicts.

The more willing and more skilled we become at respectfully asserting our needs and hearing those of others, the more likely we will work things out on a small scale and on a regular basis. The truth is, peacemaking begins at home.

So start at home – the home of where you live, where you work, where you play. Express yourself…express yourself respectfully, but fully. Hash it out, stir things up, have the courage to state your case, and the courage to deeply listen to those who disagree. Let it get heated. Not abusive. Not violent. But strong spirited if need be. Feel the passion of the ideas, opinions, desires, fears of yourself and others. There is not one true reality. You have yours and they have theirs. Don’t be afraid of the differences. And don’t buy into the winner/ loser paradigm.

Praying for Peace is easy. Saying affirmations is easy. Visioning “Peace on Earth” is easy. But consistently practicing non-violent communication skills is difficult and tedious…yet possibly the most fulfilling experience you may ever have.

Are you committed to world peace?  (or at least peace at your office?)

Then commit to learning effective ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in your life.

You might be surprised with the results.