Awakening to war changes our perspective. We start questioning the beliefs that guided us for so long. Take a look at history. It keeps repeating stories of division and conflict. People die, and war becomes a backdrop to our lives. Yet, sometimes we pause. We see torn families, communities and devastation. The loss surrounds us. And like so many, experiencing horrific loss is soul breaking.
But that pause is powerful. It opens space for awareness that we can break historical patterns. And at the root is the awareness that war is another machine we created and inherited. “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”—Albert Einstein
When my friend Anne asked me about my first memory in life, I shared that it was when war broke out in my country. I was three years old when I learned about manmade division and if my side lost the war, you wouldn’t be reading this. Anne shared that it was her first memory as well; when war broke out in her home between her parents. Like so many, while we are children of war and terror, we know in our hearts it doesn’t have to be this way.
Why do we insist on carrying this weight forward? Could it be that we’re stuck in a barbaric framework that we ourselves built and inherited? Despite cries of ‘never again,’ we relive this genocidal horror; again and again.
Imagine a world where it’s just “us,” without a “them” to fight against. Our perceptions of good and bad often serve the lowest denominator, but we can leave them behind. So, what do we usually avoid? What if we extend a hand to understanding the divides and loss instead? Why is it that communities mostly come together during times of crisis? Can we make sharing and loving a way of life?
Conflict is not and never has been a necessary evil. It’s time to question this idea. Challenge it. Make room for other ways of being in this world of ours. Welcoming our own fears and insecurities allows us to open ourselves and question, deeply.
Being afraid of the unknown is human. It’s not a flaw; it’s a sign of life. When uncertainty looms, it’s tempting to escape. The courageous stick around to explore, even when things fall apart. Bravery doesn’t mean absence of fear; it means a full engagement with the divisions; inside and out.
Take a look at history again and awakening to war. We don’t find solutions as much as we find temporary band-aids. Lasting change comes from letting things unfold naturally, from making space for all life experiences—grief, relief, misery, and peace.
Life constantly puts us at crossroads. Do we opt for peace, or do we choose war? When moments make you edgy, asking that simple question can guide you. Feelings like disappointment or irritation are not your enemy. They’re signposts, letting you know that you can keep going in the same way or create something wildly different.
Life will continue to push you to your limits; you don’t have to look for these situations. They find you. When they do, remember it’s a call to face the unknown with an open heart. Consider it a cue to stop resisting and lean into the experience. In a world that’s always changing, the one constant is how we react to it.
So, the next time life nudges you, ask yourself: Am I going to engage with this in a healthy way, or am I sticking to old, toxic beliefs? I have had to make some tough choices as a result of not accepting the status quo.
Losing my 23 year old cousin yesterday to war, and so many others, is in my heart to ask, can we break these horrors playing out on in different parts of our world and chart a different course for humanity? Fully understanding that it takes time and effort. “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”—Yoko Ono. Peace becomes more than an idea; it becomes an action, a practice.
What if it’s up to each of us to understand peace is a state of mind not needing to take anyone down? How can we lift ourselves and each other up by becoming powerful creators of a healthy life and world? Even with a broken heart, we no longer fight but create. I am committed to this path more than ever; knowing there is always another way.
I write this with tears flowing and a broken heart; understanding that nothing is impossible when we move together in the direction of health and wholeness. Understanding the politics of keeping us divided and in a constant need of safety.
We have yet to touch the surface of what is possible. As we navigate two worlds right now, can we open the door to the unknown; a world where we no longer fight for our lives and do our work? Imagine what we would report on when we create peace in our hearts.
“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”—Hannah Senesh
The transformative shift comes when we evolve our consciousness, when we see not just the surface but also the forces at play. It’s time to face ourselves like never before. And our hearts open up to the current division of our world. With each conversation, each act of kindness, each effort to understand, we water that seed. We are responsible for how we react.
Our choices define our history as we mourn and feel into deep grief. In a state of consciousness there are no sides, only a shared human experience.
With deep sorrow and understanding. Maybe this is our most important job to construct healthy paradigms that make the toxic ones obsolete?
If you don’t hear from me for a day or two or three, I may be pausing to integrate as I trek into the unknown. No one is coming to save us. We are the leaders we need right now.