This week my wife and I were in New York City for some business. We had never taken the public tour of the United Nations Headquarters before, so we got our visitors passes and went. I was very moved as the guide took us around the headquarters building and described both the history of the UN and the many initiatives the UN continues to work on around the world. One of the most impressive statements to me was on a plaque: "Peace like war must be waged." Turns out actor George Clooney used that statement in a public service announcement to highlight the important work of the UN Peacekeepers. Here's the 60 second spot:
"Peace like war must be waged." We often don't think of peace in those terms. We talk about fighting wars, waging battles in order to have territorial, national, and international victories. War is synonymous with action and powerful initiative.
And yet peace takes the same kind of energy, intentionality, and powerful initiative. Peace doesn't just happen. You can't sit around and hope for it. You have to work for it ... hard! You have to want it so badly that you're willing to expend lots of energy and personal resources to obtain it.
Here's what Clooney's ad stated: “Peace is not just a colored ribbon. It’s more than a wristband or a t-shirt. It’s not just a donation or a 5 K race. It’s not just a folk song, or a white dove. And peace is certainly more than a celebrity endorsement. Peace is a full time job. It’s protecting civilians, overseeing elections, and disarming ex-combatants. The UN has over 100,000 Peacekeepers on the ground, in places others can’t or won’t go, doing things others can’t or won’t do. Peace, like war, must be waged.”
Think of all the peace movements in history--the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King, Jr., Indian independence and equality with Gandhi, the women's suffrage movement for voting rights and greater equality. None of these or any others just happened. Peace had to be waged just as hard and as strategically as any war in history. Huge obstacles had to be overcome. And those peace battles continue needing to be waged even in our present in order to build on the successes of the past and bring about ever greater levels of equality.
Peace like war must be waged.
I'm thinking a lot about this as I prepare for a public speaking series here in San Francisco in 10 days (3 nights: October 19, 26, November 2). My topic is "Living Worry Free: Developing Inner Peace in an Age of Anxiety." Here's the link for the invitation.
The reality is, inner peace isn't something that simply happens or shows up in your life, either. You can't just sit up on top of a mountain like the stereotypical guru meditating peace into your life. Since most of us have to live "normal" lives in the "real" world, we can't be on retreat 24/7 away from the hustle and bustle. Meditation is, to be sure, a highly significant tool (I'll be talking about that in my series).
But for you to have the ability to live life in the midst of all the chaos, uncertainty, anxiety, worry, stress, and busyness with a deeper sense of calm, contentment, and nonanxious presence, you're going to have to work at it--develop the ability--wage the battle to experience and enjoy this deeper place. You're going to have to battle all the forces in our culture and world and our own divided selves that can keep you from that inward attitude and experience.
So how are you waging for peace in your life these days? What strategies are you utilizing to build a deeper inner peace?
It can be strategies as simple as thankfulness--keeping a regular gratitude journal--or mindfulness (the "be here now" mantra which says, "In this moment, I have everything I need").
Believe me, as simple as using those tools might seem, we all battle internal walls that make it challenging for us to utilize them. I'm going to talk in the upcoming series about what these obstacles are and why they're so difficult to face. But if we neglect these available tools and resources, we push away the possibility for lasting and meaningful inner peace.
Wars are fought in this world to protect something of great value. Even the desire to expand territory comes from a place of fear to protect something. Imagine how many human lives have been sacrificed for these causes.
Even so, peace--that inner place of sacred calm--must be established and protected at great cost. But instead of being motivated by fear, the development of peace is motivated by love. And the reality is, our motivations impact our strategies.
What are the ways we can proactively engage in this protective pursuit? How can we protect our inner sanctuary where God's presence dwells so that we are empowered to show up in life with more calm and peace, grounded in the divine goodness?
That's what I'm going to talk about in my upcoming series. And I'll blog about each session so those of you who can't be here in San Francisco in person can get in on this hugely significant content. For some of you, some of the strategies will be new. For others of you, they will be reminders. But for all of us, we will be able to center on the truth that even in the midst of chaos both outside and inside us, we can clear the way for a peace which passes all understanding which radiates out to transform our worlds in profound ways.
Peace like war must be waged. The United Nations is on to something here. Maybe we need to emulate the passionate and intentional initiative in our spiritual lives.