Is The Quest For Peace An Illusion?

by Arleen Lorrance

 The older I get the more I watch my hopes for humanity and the world diminish in vibrancy. I didn't say disappear or even fade, but the vibrancy has dimmed somewhat. Every now and then I get a boost, such as when Macron was elected in France, or when citizens speak out respectfully at town meetings, or when girls who were held hostage are released. Every day I remind myself that holding hope for peace in the world is too large a scope; I really must focus on myself and how I can be the change I want to see happen every day.

 But will there ever be peace, lasting and enduring peace across the globe, at the same time everywhere. I doubt it. I regret saying that but I sense it is not the nature of being human. We are all subject to the prevailing realm of polarities where so-called good and evil exist every day and vie for dominance. Because this realm in which we live is one of eternal polarities, and both forces are equal in their strength, peace would seem to be a pipe dream.

 I see that it is silly for me to dream of all the nations of the world coming together to rejoice in kindness and to devote themselves to the well-being of every human everywhere. In our present state of development as a species we are neither ready, nor able, collectively to achieve this milestone.

 How can there be peace in the world when tensions run so high that if flights are cancelled people start fist-fighting in the airport? Or when passengers are mistreated by airlines because they won't give up the seats for which they paid? Or when there are customers who are ready to tear one another apart because they are fighting over the last remaining Christmas item on the shelf?

 How can there be peace when so-called normal world leaders seek domination over other nations or withdraw from climate pacts because it would benefit their own people and to hell with everyone else?

 How can there be peace when there are self-serving dictators who slaughter their citizens to remain in power or threaten nuclear war because they can?

 Peace Exists in the Moment

People everywhere are suffering and dying at the hands of those who have what they call a just cause. They are dying every moment because they are casualties of power struggles or because they are the wrong religion, color, or sex. Or because they interfere with the desire for still more on the part of the already wealthy. Or because they are of no import and are therefore expendable.

 But here is a smaller and even more relevant issue. How can there be peace when neighbors, friends, family members, and lovers snap at each other and draw to themselves an equally nasty response? How can there be peace in the world when this behavior exists daily in the market, in the kitchen, in the classroom? 

And worse still, how can there be peace in the world when someone such as myself who has practiced The Love Principles and awakened to consciousness almost 50 years ago can still find myself not just out-of-sorts but irritated by a life circumstance, annoyed by another's behavior, angry because of another's opinions or choices, or competitive to the point of withholding my energy flow and pitting myself against the other?

 Peace in the world is surely an illusion and it will remain so because peace exists only in the moment that each one of us chooses to enter a quiet, harmonious state in which we give thanks to be alive, offer praise for the opportunity to love, and open ourselves to the endless differences that surround us in human beings everywhere.

 Peace exists in each of us when we ask another what motivates the choices they make, choices we would never make. Peace exists when we go beyond our personal wants and needs to ask another what they want, what they need and join them in their quest to achieve it. When I think that this is where we must start the peace process, on this most elementary level of one person to one person, I am overwhelmed by what the task would be to achieve world peace, nation to nation. 

Is Reconciliation Possible?

The endless Middle East situation in which reconciliation presents as impossible has entrenched people on both sides, neither willing to give an inch. The attacks continue, each side lifting the flag of righteousness and employing tactics to squelch the other side. And all of it is heart-wrenching because all the children are being indoctrinated with the same goals and taught to fear, to defend, and to squash the enemy.

 I read these lines recently in Daniel Silva's book The Kill Artist: He, a Palestinian terrorist, thought "...of his father -- how he had died of a broken heart with the keys to the family home in the Upper Galilee still in his pocket...He hated the Jews with an intensity that made his chest ache."

 Those few words captured the entire agonizing Middle East stalemate for me. They could have been said by a Jew whose father was carrying the keys to his home in Warsaw in his pocket on the way to the gas chamber. Or by the Syrian who was being starved to death because his quest for freedom interfered with the reigning regime.

 Peace is an illusion as long as one person on the planet is expendable.

 Ignorance of the Truth Forestalls Peace

And peace is an illusion as long as we remain ignorant of the facts of what led to history-changing events. During a visit to the so-called Holy Land in the 1970ís I asked why it was that the Palestinians evacuated their lands in the first place in 1948, allowing the Israelis to move in and confiscate it. I was told (and this myth remained for me all these years) that the Arabs told the Palestinians to leave so that Israel could be attacked and eliminated once and for all. Then, the Palestinians could move back in and basically live happily ever after. But I recently discovered, much to my despair, that that is not what happened.

 The Israelis wanted to open the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They made a list of the Arab villages they would need to occupy to achieve this. The high ground in the area was what the Arabs were using to oversee and cut routes between the two cities, as well as food supplies. The Haganah, a secret society formed by Jews in Palestine in 1920 to defend themselves against Arab attacks which later became the nucleus of the Israeli army, authorized the take-over of a strategic Palestinian village, Deir Yassin.

In the early morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun (a Jewish underground Zionist group, who can easily be called terrorists, headed by Menachem Begin), and members of the Stern Gang, whose actions were far more horrendous than current-day Hamas, attacked the peaceful Palestinian village of Deir Yassin and its 750 residents. The village was outside the area assigned as the Jewish State by the U.N. but it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The attack was very systematic. Haganah commander David Shaltiel told the Israeli terrorist leaders to get the inhabitants to abandon their homes but to keep the deserted houses in tact so the Israelis could occupy them and the village be used to establish an airfield.

 A small open truck fitted with a loudspeaker was driven to the entrance of the village before the attack to broadcast a warning to civilians to evacuate the area, which many did. But over 100 women and children were horrifically murdered. The loudspeaker warned that residents must leave immediately or suffer the same fate. The news spread from village to village and Palestinians fled for fear of their lives. Telescoping this event, eventually thousands were killed and 700,000 were driven from their homes and ancestral lands on which they had lived for centuries. Those 700,000 live in squalid conditions in refugee camps and have never been able to return home.

 The attack on Deir Yassin came only three years after the end of World War II. Did the Jews forget in such a short period of time that they were forced from their homes, that they were beaten and murdered and gassed, that they were expendable in the eyes of the Nazis? Surely, they had to remember as they routed the Palestinians from their homes, as they murdered them, banished them, and saw them as expendable.

 How Might Peace Be Possible?

How can there be peace when even today the Israelis refuse to treat the Palestinians as human beings with equal rights; the Palestinians, like Haganah, have formed their own defenses and devised equal aggression to regain what is theirs.

 Peace remains an illusion.

 And so, I begin all over again to explore how peace might be possible. How I might carry in my pocket a seed which I can plant in fertile ground and water with the commitment of my love so that what emerges from the ground and flowers in the light will send forth a scent that will awaken others to the possibility that one day we might come to know that we are each other. We are not just sharing the world together, we are the world and every single action we take and every word we speak and every thought we think and feeling we feel is what comprises the life we are all living.

 Until we break through the illusion that we are separate from one another, peace will remain an illusion.