The Elusiveness of Peace
THE ELUSIVENESS OF PEACE … THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Social media has catapulted every one of us onto our own little global center stage. With the push of a button, we can cue the lights announcing the next barrage of visual and intellectual stimulation. What flows forth is a cacophony of emotion manifesting itself by reflecting every facet of our complex personalities, trillions of times a day – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
One would think that with over six billion living souls today, all with different perspectives on how to guide people towards peace, we would be well on our way to utopia by now. Even my diverse network of friends that cross every spectrum of life, from political and religious beliefs, to those who are vegetarians, heterosexuals, homosexuals, pacifists, to real life warriors, is a wonderful reflection of the bigger picture. But through the sheer volume of data and news that cascades like a raging river, we’re just not there. I mean, we’re not even close! We continue to miss the mark in our attempt to attain “peace on earth and good will towards all men”… which is an incomplete proclamation, by the way.
So then, where does the problem lie? Why is peace so elusive? If collectively we haven’t been able to attain true genuine peace since the beginning of recorded history, then who can? Is it even possible?
Rarely do we take the time to be still and remove the clutter and noise from our lives, or really even consider what is required for genuine peace.
What I am about to share is not original thought. These precepts are not mine, but I do subscribe to them. I have seen them lived out successfully in each of those countries and cultures I have traveled to and worked in. They are difficult at best to manage on a personal level, and insanely tough to incorporate on a community level.
Why then am I even fostering principles that are this challenging to implement? Well, because peace is at stake and the heart of the matter is … the heart.
Webster defines complacency as: “self-satisfaction of one’s situation without awareness of some potential danger or deficiency.”
Timothy Keller, a man of some notoriety, said, “Deep down, we cling to the simplistic idea that if we are good, life will go well. Untrue.”
This simplistic idea, at the very core of its emotion, has complacency painted all over it. First and foremost, we are not purely good. Within us all are those characteristics that disqualify us before we can even step up to the starting line. (Pride, arrogance, greed, selfishness, anger, jealousy, envy, big lies, white lies … just to name a few.) This sad fact screams deficiency and most people choose not to acknowledge its potential danger.
The consequence of those less then stellar characteristics within each of us has the potential to produce destructive behaviors. Thus, in our state of complacency, we miss the real danger that resides within. It is we who are the danger, and we are incapable of being good on our own all the time. We can do good deeds, have good thoughts and good intentions, but ultimately we incriminate ourselves and are guilty by and through the effects of those darker attributes that reside within us.
So what keeps us in a state of complacency?
Fear is best described as a distressed emotion aroused by impending discomfort.
Rosanne Cash grasped this natural truth when she said, “The key to change … is to let go of fear.” Fear keeps us imprisoned to our finite way of living and believing. The thought of: what if I am wrong about my faith in mankind and their ability to attain peace? I mean, my verified state of complacency keeps me metaphorically medicated, and if that’s true, then Timothy Keller is right! Things will not go well for us!
Regretfully, fear keeps us solely looking inward. Our focus is laser locked on our self-preservation and glorification; usually, if not exclusively, at the expense of others. It’s impossible to attain any chance of peace when we are locked into our selfish mantra of “me.”
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the Light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
Our heart is the problem. We get in the way of what should be considered and defined as righteous and selfless. It saddens me that we have intentionally left that most critical part out. It’s the elephant in the room. But then again, fear keeps us from living out and saying what is righteous and true.
Our complacency keeps us from walking with the Light of altruism in a relationship with the Creator. He said that He is the Light, yet we marginalize His ability to govern and love His creation through and in partnership with our freewill.
Our fear controls us so much so that we rationalize that there is no God. Thereby, we are left on our own in a universe we can’t even explain, and the very thought of its beginning escapes our mighty but very finite and limited way of thinking.
So what do I believe is required of each of us if we are to ultimately attain genuine “peace on earth and good will towards men”…? A heart change that embraces the conclusion to that proclamation… “with whom God is well pleased.”
God so loves you and me that He sacrificed himself on the cross in order to establish peace on earth in our hearts. His selfless and fearless act of love to reconcile our hearts to His, the Creator of all things, is the greatest answer to peace that man (creation) can ever imagine or wish to attain.
We will continue to miss out on the greatest opportunity for peace if we do not step out of complacency and fear and step into a relationship with God, for in shifting our hearts to Him, there we will find true peace.
– by Ed Apffel