I commented on a Facebook friend’s post this morning. He commented back, “May Santa bring what you most desire.” Without thinking about it much I commented back, “I desire peace.” It sort of just came to me that, that is what I want. Now that I’ve had time to think about, It was the truest thing I could say. Buddhism teaches that it’s our desires, or craving that brings us the most unrest. If we rid ourselves of these cravings, we will have peace. Unmet desires will keep us from enlightening ourselves. True, as far as that goes. But I think we need to be picky about which desires we eliminate. Some desires, even though they may not be realized, are good for us. Like desiring peace.
I read an article yesterday that said conflict, and thoughts of revenge, getting back at your perceived enemies, activate the same areas of the brain as drugs . The so-called, pleasure centers. (The article was about our president, and why he seems to surround himself with conflict, even if it’s invented) It builds on itself and acts like a drug. The more you have it, the more you need to have it, to maintain the level of pleasure activation in the brain. One of the side effects of constant conflict however, is poor health. When we are constantly in turmoil, our health suffers.
When I was young, I partied, hung out with friends, went to bars, listened to loud music, and participated in a lot of the things that go along with life in the fast lane (wink wink). As I’ve gotten older I’ve become a completely different person in that respect. I desire peace. I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to live fast and loud, but I had my share, and don’t want it anymore. Maybe I never needed that brain activation, the kicking into high gear of the pleasure center in my head. I guess I’m lucky that way. Many are not. That still doesn’t explain why I lived the way I did. Life was exciting doing, going, and taking, but I guess I reached my limit at some point and said, “Enough.”
Peace between people, peace in the world. To have peace, you must have compassion. We can live a solitary life and maintain peace because of it, but we always have to interact with others no matter how solitary we are. So to be alone to avoid conflict is not really creating peace. “Create” is an action word. In order to create, we must do something. Creating peace among people takes action and that action must be of compassion. We must care about others to create peace. We must have empathy toward others. We must be able to put ourselves, at least imagining what others feel, in their place, even if we don’t agree. It’s easy to see why there isn’t much peace in the world. It’s hard work. Empathizing with others, especially when you don’t agree takes hard work. Peace does not, just happen.
So how does peace, “happen?” It comes from our desires. We want peace. We want to live in a conflict free world. The more people who want it, the more people that are willing to work for it, the more it will happen. This all seems rather elementary, I know, but sometimes we have to be reminded of it. Eyes on the prize, as they say. It takes work, a continual effort. Compassion, sometimes is hard. You read something on Facebook that really grinds your gears and you think, How can some one be so stupid? How can they think like that? I’m guilty of it. I do it a lot. And sometimes I write thoughtless comments because of it. And then I think, That wasn’t very compassionate. And then I think, I don’t want to be compassionate. I want to grind them into dust for what they said. It happens, to me, and to you. But it doesn’t help. It only creates more conflict.
So I’m trying. Trying to be more compassionate, more empathetic, more peaceful. As it is said, we are human, after all. As humans, we are filled with a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions. A saying attributed to Native Americans says there are two wolves inside each of us and they are fighting. Which one will win? The one you feed. The one we devote more energy too, more food, will win. It is up to each of us to decide which wolf will win. I’ve decided, and I have promised myself to work toward that goal, that desire. I want to see more peace in the world so it is up to me to make that happen. Will I fail? Yes, I will. But I won’t stop. I won’t.