It is easy to see that the world continues to find reasons for fighting – whether between countries, or within countries, or between individuals. Since every single human being is aging and since precious time passes, the obsession with difference and conflict is in reality an illness that afflicts humanity.
A cartoon from a Facebook post I read this morning reminded me of the foolishness of conflict, and it made me laugh. It also reminded me of the Christmas truces of World War 1, well-known to historians. The Christmas truces were an outbreak of peace in the middle of what was supposed to be a war.
The need to see others as different has led to conflict as far back as we can trace in human history. It leads to racism. It leads to hatred between rival political parties. It leads to civil wars and to wars between countries. And, in contrast, the more fundamental need to see others as being like ourselves, has always led back to peace and to mutual acceptance and appreciation, and to love.
I see our entire lives as a flash of existence against a backdrop of silence. Seen in that way, there is no cause for conflict. And there is actually no such thing as conflict, but the illusion of conflict relates to human suffering. Why should this be necessary?
What are we, all of us? What am I as an individual human being? Who is it that thinks there is a conflict to be pursued? Who is "The Other"? My experience is that if we pay attention to these questions, and understand ourselves thoroughly, there is before long no idea about other and self, and not even a trace of possibility for conflict. In other words, the better we understand ourselves, the fewer divisions we can find in the whole world, and more peace becomes a central experience.
When leaders of nations aggravate divisions internally in order to gain more political control, or when leaders portray other nations as enemies, we are all in danger of losing something. There is only so much news I want to hear each day, because knowing myself, and enjoying connection with those around me, is far more rewarding. And I think everyone is happier when I stay focused on what is real, in that sense. There is no conflict there!
Leaders can tell us we should fight (against those who are less educated, or those who are wealthier, or those who are better educated, or those who are poorer, or those who look different or speak differently, or against the media). In a few words, they like to say "Let's you and him fight". My response to all of it these days is a challenge, a question: "What are you talking about?" I might use different words to express my feeling, but it boils down to, again, "What are you talking about?"
I refuse to take in the idea of division. I wish all of us a moment, a day, and a lifetime of finding self-knowledge, expressed in daily life. There is only peace there.