Peace arrived at Cal State Long Beach, yesterday. “Practicing Peace” included free yoga sessions, music, art, many discussions, a human peace symbol and a candlelight vigil for victims of violence, all sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the Center for Peace and Social Justice and numerous student and community organizations.
What an odd concept; practice peace. Can this catch on?
The word peace has several different meanings. Dictionary.com has more than 15 definitions of peace. It can mean a state of harmony between people and/or nations, or a state of personal tranquility. Then there is “peace,” the hand gesture, made popular in the 1960s by friendly neighborhood hippies.
We don’t think of peace much throughout our daily lives, though many of us practice it without even knowing it.
When we resolve a problem or dispute agreeably, when we decide not to get mad in traffic and let a fellow commuter merge and when we do something for inner tranquility, like yoga exercises or listening to music, we are practicing peace.
We humans are in a perpetual state of decline when our inner “hawks” consume our inner “doves.” But where does peace come from and why is it so important?
Benjamin Franklin said, “There was never a good war or a bad peace.” Peace is a good thing; it is never better to fight with someone or another country. Yet, we have had several world wars and never a moment of global peace.
It becomes hard to be nice when no one is being nice back, but peace needs to start somewhere.
If every person strove for his or her own personal peace, wouldn’t the world, as a whole be more peaceful? We don’t need to go out and try to save the world; all we need to do is start with us — ourselves. When we work to make ourselves better, we show the world how to be better.
It’s like the commercial that shows one person doing something nice or thoughtful for another at a fair. Someone else sees the good deed and, in turn, does something nice for someone else and so on. Peace starts with the individual, but that doesn’t mean it can’t spread.
There are many books, movies and music that promote peace. After “Pay it Forward,” the movie about an elementary school student who starts a world movement by doing good deeds for others, many people felt inspired and vowed to be better. We tend to walk away from something with good intentions and little follow through. We forget or get discouraged when life sets us back a few steps.
The commercial and movie portray peace as being something that is contagious. We see it happening and pass it on; we will do for others what is done for us. A chain reaction with the potential of global reach is a nice thing to think about when we’re talking about peace.
How many times a day do we become mad at strangers? Many of us walk around pissed off and we take our bad days out on others. Anger can be more contagious than generosity and has more negative consequences. Anger starts wars; peace does not.
Practicing peace is an uphill battle, but we need to start somewhere. We at the Daily Forty-Niner are grateful it started here, yesterday. Now if it can only spread….