Today, there are many people worldwide who are actively involved in “peacemaking.” So what are some of the personal attitudes, skills and actions that these people need to act effectively in ways that increase the likelihood that “peace” will become more useful than violence (war) for resolving conflicts? Here are but a few.
The first category of peacemaking skills is personal. The second category is interpersonal (relationships) and the third category is environmental. When we become skilled in all three categories, we can honestly say we are “peacemakers.”
Probably one of the greatest peacemakers was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (usually referred to as “Mahatma,” which roughly translates “Great Soul”). He once wrote, “You must become the change you want to see in the world.” That means peacemakers must become peaceful within themselves. Brother David Steindl-Rast wrote, “Only if we become calm as earth, fluid as water, and blazing as fire will be able to rise to the task of peacemaking.” What personal characteristics are most useful for becoming internally peaceful? Here are a few:
- A Relentless Search for Truth.”
That is what Gandhi called ‘Satyagraha.’ Satyagraha aims not at victory in the narrow sense but ‘a relentless search for Truth.” Gandhi called it ‘Truth-force” or “Soul-force,” and its main element is: “Truth and Nonviolence are inter-related as Ends and Means. A Satyagrahi is one who practices Satyagraha. A Satyagrahi always seeks the Truth about him or herself; about others; about relationships; and about one’s contribution to a peaceful resolution to any conflict. S/he views assailants as “misled.” Gandhi believed that when people who hate “learn the truth, they will be sorry for their [hateful] actions.” “Those who leave hate groups have learned the truth.”
- Emotional Refueling.
Peacemakers take great care to maintain emotional equanimity. They keep their stress level very low. They meditate, maintain an optimistic attitude, enjoy being alive, maintain an “attitude of gratitude,” treat themselves as they would a loved child, never stop learning, trust themselves and others, and always stay focused on attaining their desired outcomes.
- Inner Peace is Reinforced by Maintaining an Optimistic aAitude.
Gandhi’s Satyagrahi is an altruistic but a practical idealist and an irrepressible optimist. Such optimism “grows from truth to truth.” A genuine builder of peace is, like Gandhi, “what he thinks, what he feels and what he says and what he does are all the same thing.”
Peacemakers believe that love is the only force powerful enough to bring about peace within one’s self, peace in relationships and peace in the world. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. [It] is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” He also wrote, “I have decided to stick to love…hate is too great a burden to bear.” Gandhi writes, “One conquers hatred by love. …If you hate somebody, it hurts you more than the object of your hatred.”
Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach. Contact him if you would like to receive his newsletters. He can be reached through email: DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com