Expressed poetically– The soldier in you

Herbert Whone was a fine man, musician and writer. I corresponded with him, mainly about his book The hidden face of music back in the 80-s, I think. In my own quest to find “the hidden face of music” I even visited him in Harrogate and have fond memories of our talks and him giving me a private tour of Fountains Abbey.

I still remember the details about the monks and the prohibition against ONE (the cup had TWO ears, the monks walked in TWO rows, etc.) and his description of dinner at the Abbey. One would imagine that food would be served and eaten in silence. However, in so called silence many wayward thoughts enter our mind. To hinder that, the brother with the best voice sat high up on a ledge and read from some holy book during meal.

And once a month, the other brothers prayed for him, so that we would not, Narcissus-like, fall in love with his own voice. Such prayers have relevance even today. Did I say “even”? I meant much more relevance today.

Anyway, the other day I stumbled upon a site dedicated to Herbert, who now resides in another dimension. (And here is a vita of the man. ) The site presents some of his paintings, photographs and poems. (He was not only a musician and writer.)

Among the poems I found, expressed in a poem, something I’ve been preaching in prose: that being better than what we criticize, seeing the war-seed in ourselves, is an essential step to real peace. It felt good to be in harmony with Herbert in this way, too.

As with all worthwhile poetry, read this aloud. I mean, a musician wrote it.
Yes, coming clean and seeing the “soldier” and the war-seeds in ourselves is an important step for all peaceniks. 

Herbert Whone

Peace by committee

When we well know that the most important scientific inventions, philosophical breakthroughs and musical or literary masterpieces have all come from individuals – from a Leonardo, Einstein, Beethoven, Goethe – why then do we believe that peace, one of the most difficult things on Earth, is going to be created by committee?

My reason for saying this: I have been domain-traveling throughout my life. My starting point was and is music, a wonderful domain, much more valuable and precious then most of us understand.

Then philosophy, a so-so domain. After that politics, a real stiff one.

And now paxology, peace work, peace research. I’ve been at it now for around three years and what I see makes me confused, disappointed and frankly scared. There is so much muddiness in this domain, so much surface — empty phrases, gestures, cliches and thinking inside the box.

Much feel-good, not much think-good. As somebody put it: peace is about releasing captive white doves by political leaders.

Is it really this simple?

There is also an underlying premise that peace is the job of groups, committees and organizations. Not individuals.

I don’t know where this view comes from and frankly don’t much care. What I do know is that this goes against the insight that breakthroughs and masterpieces never come from groups or organizations. Always from solitary, isolated, not seldom ridiculed individuals. Why should the situation be different when it comes to peace?

In this most difficult of tasks, Groups — until now inert, square and predictable — (supposedly) suddenly bloom and reach genius level, become innovative and find brand new paths. Do we really believe that?

If not, why don’t we look in new, fresh directions?

The peace domain is like Wikipedia that says “No thanks!” to original research.

Of course I am talking about my own work here, no denying it. I have in my relatively short time in the peace domain contributed valuable, innovative material – that nobody seems to be interested in.  I guess it feels… unaccustomed and different.

“War seeds”, musical peace map, Agon and antagonism… what IS all that about? It’s not our usual fare. Vive la similarité.

Meanwhile, many other domains, like the business sphere for example, are SCREAMING for innovation! Yes, much of it is lip-service; what one really wants is a new look or vogue, a new viral term, a hip new costume — but at least one is screaming. It’s a start.

I wish there was more screaming, shouting and excitement in the peace domain. As it  is, it reminds me of this picture.

“All quiet on the Western front.”

Quiet indeed.

Am I saying that peace should be conducted as business? Not really. Maybe as its opposite, as WAR.

War is a by and large a very efficient affair. In spite of obvious blunders it aims at precision; logistics are of prime importance; goals and targets are well defined. Language is highly efficient in order to avoid mistakes, semantic clarity is essential to avoid ambiguities which can have fatal consequences, Roger that!

War hires  (and pays) the best brains; just look at the Manhattan project where more than a dozen Nobel prize winners were involved. (How many Nobel prize winners are working on building peace…?) There are huge amounts of money in war and innovation is constant; always there are new and more streamlined ways of killing our fellow man.

All this is the opposite of the peace domain, where vagueness is okay, where we don’t even need a definition. It’s not really important to pinpoint it, everybody knows what peace is anyway… Perhaps. Until they are asked to define it.

On the other hand, even a small child in the street can basically tell you what “war” is! Imagine the military reasoning in the same vague way.

Ready guys? Let’s fire off some of these old rockets in about THAT direction, give and take a few miles, in the next day or two. We THINK the bad guys are somewhere around that corner. God willing we might actually hit some of them, and hopefully not as many of our own people as last time.

That would be a bad joke, but that is what happens in the peace domain. 
No precision, no hardcore thinking, no innovation. Just a predictable collection of second-hand phrases and goals that are inherited from other eras, other peace organizations.

Maybe I am too harsh, but we do need more harsh now, and less cuddly feel-good. Peace needs precision. Clarity is a precursor of peace.

We need blueprints like this.

Laser guided peace, anyone?

All of this has to do with another big, unacknowledged problem. Namely that very few people (I mean individuals) get truly excited about peace.

–Yes, peace is something fine, lofty and very IMPORTANT;  but right now we want to watch that cool YouTube video and an action movie. But we DO wish the peace organizations all the luck!

This distanced, lukewarm, not my table-attitude is not helpful.  If war, at least in its sublimated forms (sports, contests, competition, debates, etc.) is SO MUCH MORE interesting and exciting (and fun) than peace, then of course peace is going to remain dutiful committee work, nothing for individuals to be excited about and engage themselves in.

As this curve shows…

This is the reason I talk about a specific variant of peace, namely Venusian Peace.

Peace that is not just absence (of war, conflict, poverty, killing) but has actual positive content. Namely the qualities associated with Venus: art, beauty, harmony, music, balance, love.

None of that is boring, none of that is created by committees. Sometimes by composers.

Now please visit the YouTube channel of the VPP   for peace-thinking outside the usual box, and feel free to support the project on Patreon.  Thank you.

Shut up! or Let’s talk

Shut up! or Let’s talk
An interview with Peace of Cake

(Peace of Cake is an underground peace gorilla, I mean peace guerrilla organization that rang me up to get the perspective of the Venusian Peace Project.)

Peace of Cake: Hello. What would you like to say to people who really want peace in the world today?

LH: Don’t underestimate the task. Creating peace is not an easy, feel-good kind of thing. Peace has powerful enemies.

I know, the military industrial complex.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You must look much farther if you want to know what you are up against. First, you have an inner enemy in this respect. We all have war seeds within us that do NOT want peace.

Then, we have the collective sphere around us. Few people will say that they desire war, but they probably want to hang on to their war seeds, war games. In order to really work for peace, you need to understand yourself, war and peace within yourself. Not just outside, which is often a simple game of finger-pointing. Finger-pointing is what keeps war going.

Are you talking about inner peace here?

Another term that we don’t really know what it is. What is inner peace?

I guess.. it is when you feel harmony between you and the outer world and maybe also within you.

Maybe there are too many maybe’s here. I suspect that outer peace (national, international peace) and inner peace are only related semantically. Same word means different things. Because how long does your inner peace stay? An hour, two days…?

Well, if I had inner peace for two days, that would be great!

So it comes and goes. Usually that is the case. We feel peace for a while, then it goes away and a new actor comes on stage. Maybe hunger, excitement, irritation or boredom. Bye bye, inner peace!

And another thing: Where does inner peace come from?

Hard to say. Things just manage to flow, everything is in the right place at the right time.

Have you created this flow?

No, I cannot claim that.

So it comes and goes by itself?

More or less so, yes.

A very popular saying or cliche is “Peace starts with the individual”. But where does it end? Well, maybe it just ends, somewhere.

We cannot talk about inner and outer peace as somehow equivalent. Imagine a country where you have war for an hour or two, then you get bored and hungry, maybe watch some TV, then war breaks out again for a day or two. Also, nobody really knows why war breaks out, what causes it to start or stop. This is not an acceptable situation in a country, village, family, company. You need more structure and stability than that.

Also in this strange country where war comes and goes according to weird winds, individuals might feel inner peace now and then, also without knowing why and where it comes from.

This to me is is a picture of some kind of insanity or mental instability, not peace.

War of cake?

OK, I see that we perhaps need to look at our terms a little closer.

Why not much closer? Peace is not rocket science, but it wouldn’t hurt if we got our thinking act together a bit more.

So if the military industrial complex is the tip of the iceberg, what’s underneath the waters then?

Good question! Such questions lead forward. There is a very very basic thing to consider when it comes to peace, wanting peace, desiring and working for peace, namely the difference between outer and inner. Are we mainly or only (very common) outer directed — or also inner directed?

In many if not most instances we are just happy to be outer directed.

What exactly do you mean by outer directed?

Looking at YOU! What you / him / her / they are doing. Observing, studying, criticizing others, from our secure position behind a screen, a shelter or trench.

And inner directed?

You look at yourself, your own hands, your face in the mirror. You measure your own acts against some kind of standard or yardstick. This is not that hard, often we just forget to do it. Or the very idea is so far from us and our culture that it never happens. This has a name: introspection, to look in the inner mirror.

And this is not something abstract or “philosophical”. It means remembering that you want peace, that peace is more important than war, and that it has a price.

Among other things we need to PAY attention. Attention can uncover for us that if we see something wrong or bad in another, answering in kind is not going to create peace. Just a circle of more mutual criticism.

Whenever WE are attacked or criticized we naturally want to defend ourselves. But we often do this by striking back, perhaps even harder than we got hit. That will make our opponent angry, so next time he might strike us even harder. And so, as the song goes, the beat goes on. The reflexes keep kicking.

This is so traditional, common and habitual that we hardly reflect on it. We believe we can reach harmony by being just as bad.

Can you give an example.

“Hate hate!” That’s is so silly and counterproductive.

Give me a practical advice, not just theories.

Take pen and paper and write a list. Think about your actions in everyday life. Ask yourself: what situations and people “light my war fire”? Or: when can I not resist the invitation to fight, the word taken in a broad sense? Know thyself, know your war seeds.

That was practical.

One more thing. Note when you are invited in a conversation, and when you are not. Two different modes. There are even specific words that I call Shut-up words. Their function is to stop further thinking, maybe make you ashamed.


“Racist”, “sexist”. Also such an innocuous term as “structure” has become Shut-up! As in “the structural oppression of the patriarchy”, a phrase that we are supposed to accept as gospel truth, not as a viewpoint or ideological formula.

The implication is that we all know what such words mean, and we all know they are bad. Thus, no need for thinking more about them. Just feel ashamed! Or make somebody else ashamed with them. Whatever you do, don’t listen!

Listening is the other mode. I call it “Let’s talk”. Which also means, let’s listen .-)

Shut-up! and Let’s talk. I will try to be more aware of these modes. Thank you.

Thank you for asking, conversing and listening.

Peace and love seeds

Gather round everybody. A sermon is coming on.

I just realized that I have talked and written a lot about war seeds, the impulse in our heart towards conflict, fighting and polarization.

Yes, I think it is important to see that war and battle is not just something outside us. However, in pointing that out one could say that I myself have committed the “sin” of finger-pointing (which I claim to be a main part of war).

So what then? Let me also talk about the Dos and not just the Don’ts. Love seeds, peace seeds, where do we find them, how to water them? How to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive?

Water me

I feel like I should come up with a list of “positives”, things to read, see, eat, do and hear that nurtures our peace and love seeds. I admit that much effort and concentration has been directed towards the left (war) side.

So this is what comes to me in this moment. Generally, search love seeds in the analog world. And put a good distance between you and media. The digital sphere, mass media and social media sometimes seems like a monster that eats our time, attention and souls.

So log out and look up at the sky. Even on a cloudy day it is grander than Facebook or email.

I would also like to recommend something to read, and that’s a tricky one. Because books, writing, is anchored in words, and words move in a dualistic domain. There is always an opposite for a word. Bad versus good, big and small, beautiful and ugly, young and old. There are books that go beyond this mirror-image, opposites attract and repel mode. but they must we found. They might not be what we think they are.

Generally I feel that writing that truly waters our peace seeds should have no thorns. That doesn’t mean “nice”, feel-good writing without dissonance, but accusation and blame should be absent.

It is perfectly possible to tell somebody they are acting like an idiot while truly loving them. Possible, but not easy. A small art, actually, that we can try to practice in our communications. Because we need both parts, the honest, true thought, and the kind, loving concern. When these marry we have sweet (not saccharine) music.

Talking of music, what said Shakespeare? Music is the food of love. Music waters our love and peace seeds. Listen to music and try to recognize the thorns. There is music that embraces you, hugs you and calls you “darling”. Try to find that music, and stick with it. At least don’t neglect it. That would make you a poor gardener.

Peace, non-violence and ahimsa

ABSTRACT: This is no scientific article but it sill feels right to start with the conclusion.

Global peace, world peace can mean different things. The world of a single human being is also at war at times.

If one wants to help peace, if one has made a decision to abstain from the mental-emotional junk food of Conflict, there are different steps to take.

Ideally one wants to be somebody who cannot hurt others. That is a high goal, which is not a reason not to aim for it. I call that “ahimsa” (Sanskrit for harmlessness).

The step before that, easier and more available, is non-violence. One step at a time we might arrive at peace.

As I wrote earlier I now call myself peace walker. That does not mean a state but an ambition: to really walk the talk of peace.

And talking of talk, let’s look at a very common saying in the peace sphere.

“Peace starts with the individual.”

I don’t like phrases that both 1) sound good and 2) don’t have a clear meaning. This phrase qualifies for both categories. If we want to go beyond mouthing vague feel-good phrases we should have distinct follow up questions.

  • In what way does the peace of the individual lead to a larger peace?
  • What kind of individual peace are we talking about?
  • What does peace mean to the individual?

Let’s have clear answers to those questions and I might agree with that statement.  But just spreading nice-sounding memes about is of no help.

My strong belief is that clarity is a precursor of peace, so let’s think clearly. Here’s my view of how peace might/ could start with the individual.

As I have written in so many texts we humans have something that I call “war seeds” in our hearts. It is only the name that is original, the observation isn’t.

Under the right (wrong) circumstance we can easily catch fire, become angry, and verbally or physically attack each other. Look at sports, football for example, and how this gentlemanly game can turn into violent hooliganism and even killing.

This is what I term war seeds in bloom.

Seeds can be choked, dried up, not watered. Or watered a lot, which leads from sports (Agon =battle, trial of strength) to Antagonism and then Agony, then outright war.

So what can the individual do against this development, this flowering of war seeds? He can look after his own garden, keep an eye on his own weeds.

Let me be much less abstract and describe how I, a soi-disant peace walker, try to handle this. First, some coordinates.

You who are reading this of course know about non-violence. It is called ahimsa in Sanskrit.

Here I want to distinguish two gradations, nonviolence in a more Western sense versus Ahimsa. In my interpretation non-violence (civil resistance, etc.) is what somebody DOES, while ahimsa refers to what he IS (his being).

Ahimsa is obviously the higher goal, admittedly a very high goal. However, it seems important to aim higher than just non-violence. Even if you chain yourself to a tree to passively to resist police arrest you might still have many much war seeds (anger, frustration, hate) in your heart. You just don’t act them out (perhaps because you are chained?).

I don’t want to belittle non-violence. That would be stupid and unrealistic. Non-violence in general is much better than violence, giving in to antagonistic impulses and feeding our belligerent impulses . But let us also see that non-violence only refers to our actions, not to our feelings and thoughts. Our hand is peaceful and passive, but not necessarily our mind and heart.

That said, non-violence is an important step towards ahimsa. We will not get there without non-violence.

A very practical example: Let us say that I have written something on Facebook about a subject on which people have “strong feelings”. (Those words indicate presence of war seeds.) Some people agree with me, some don’t and one person really lashes out against me.

What do I do in that case?

I have a martian element within me, too. I see the impulse to strike back, say something harsh “but just” (as one is tempted to call it). But since I am a peace walker I cannot just go with the downward flow.

If I had attained ahimsa I might give a wise, loving and totally non-polarizing reply. Right now I cannot. But I CAN be non-violent.


In the spur of the moment I can’t write a balanced reply, my seeds are too agitated; I am too angry and irritated.

I see two courses from there.

1) To just ignore it and turn my back. That is a rather classic way to respond. For some people that might be the best response, personally I see that a turn-your-back-to-it response contains an element of self-fear.

“I am afraid of what I might say to that person…”

2) The other response is the break, which in effect means slowing down.

Everybody understands that the break pedal is important, nay, essential in a car. Imagine all the catastrophes that would happen without it. We also have the folk wisdom of counting to ten when we fall into the clutches of Master Anger.

Counting is like stepping on the brake. It slows down our adrenaline reaction, turns off the water supply to the war seed.

Here’s how I step on the brake: I copy the message on Facebook, go offline and read it in peace and quiet.

An important reason for this has to with perceptive clarity. It is not a great discovery to say that a message, for example 3-4 sentences in a comment online, is often not really grasped.

What is really being said,and in what relation do I stand to it?

These questions never emerge, don’t even exist, in a heated discussion. I probably will react with a reflex, a knee-jerk, and reply  something not worthy of a peace walker.

Note here that this slowing down CAN also be part of a very different process, namely showing off, demonstrating how smart and intelligent we are. The goal then is to deliver a mental blow, a “crushing reply”. That does not rhyme with peace walking.

The peaceful aim should be to 1) understand what the other person really is saying 2) understand how I as a peace walker want to relate to it. Then my reply, if I still feel that I want to reply, will come from a very different part of me, a part of the garden where the war seeds do not bloom, at least not profusely.

No, I have not attained ahimsa, the non-ability to hurt. I still have within me the attraction to conflicts and polarization, but at least I have localized my break pedal. Now it becomes a question of remembering to use it.

In this way peace can “start with the individual”.

Realistically it might not go anywhere from there; it might also remain in the individual, although I think that every person who waters his peace seeds will send out positive waves. So I change my mind on that; I think  inner peace will have an effect on outer world.

Whether it can influence world events is another question.

Also one can ask how many peaceful individuals does it take to change the light bulb of war? The TM (transcendental meditation) people claim that a certain number of meditators change the collective atmosphere for the better, thus lowering crime rate for example.

That’s interesting but too often dismissed by “rational” people with irrational reflexes who see red before words like homeopathy or meditation. Who walk, as so many of us are, on the Small War Path; the path of martian conflict and polarization enjoyment.

The path of Venusian peace tries to balance that.

PS: Of course the example with Facebook takes place in the digital domain. Other rules apply for handling war seeds face to face.

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Peace and justice -it’s complicated

Many if not most people would say that justice and peace of course belong together. One is dependent on the other, they are almost identical.

The words “of course” sometimes serve as a warning, indicating that we have not really given much thought to the matter.

My own ponderings show that, sorry to say, the relationship between peace and justice are not self-evident, even are complicated.

For this we need to make clear what we mean by justice and peace.

Possibly our idea of justice is clearer than our idea of peace, because the latter, as far as I have discovered through reading and talking with peace workers, is muddy and vague. Some say it need not even be defined, everybody knows what it is.

Well, maybe until they get the question. What happens after that is more unclear.

These are my own working definitions:

Peace is very close to the concept of HARMONY. Different parts, moving in maybe very different directions, work together, in concord, towards the same end.

The best illustration of this is perhaps music. Witness the motet Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis. Choir music is often in four parts (soprano, alto, tenor and bass). This piece is in forty (!) parts.

It is very harmonious, but at the same time very complex, in the sense that no two voices sing the same melody. Forty totally distinct and different parts! This is as far as we can come from sing-song, where everybody conformistically bellows the same tune.

So here we have total concord, all moving as one, but with all individuality intact. A very rare condition, captured in the expression “unity in diversity”.

This is what I mean by Venusian peace. Allowing differences while simultaneously working together.

However, what we usually see in the world are un-harmonious versions of this. Either unity OR diversity.

Either conformist bonding, mirroring, imitation, where we relish the warm feeling of singing the same refrain, belonging to the same party or shouting the same slogan in a demonstration. This is consonance without real harmony.

The other common extreme is polarization and conflict. Here we relish the feeling of NOT agreeing, of criticizing, blaming and attacking each other. This energy is found in heated discussions, political debates, football hooliganism, demonstrations, quarrels and of course war of different kinds.

In the first instance similarity and concord are too excessively important. In the second not important at all. But in music the two meet harmoniously.

This is what I mean by good peace, dynamic peace. I call it Venusian peace because it is filled with the Venusian qualities of art, love, harmony and beauty.

What is justice then?

A kind of balance (also a Venusian quality).

What is the difference between peace and justice?

It can be the difference between WE and I. While peace is something that you and I or our countries strive for (thus a big WE is involved)  justice is much more concerned with only me or only us.

Justice can be a holistic thing, but often is not. What we term justice can be a mere matter of personal winning that I or my group do not want to be without.

In this way people who work for the rights of others are closer to justice than those who want justice for themselves. Of course it is terrible when you feel that you have been abandoned and badly, unjustly treated. You want to stand up for yourself and get some human rights. That is logical, understandable and right.

However, there is a scale here. Some people are so destitute that they can hardly stand on their feet, even less fight for their rights. Others are much much better off and when they protect their rights only the words are the same.

While the former wants to have a meal and a bed to sleep in the other wants privileges, money and luxuries that he thinks the world owes him. And we know that some people even hurt themselves in order to get money from society. Others practice the game of Suing, something of a national sport in the USA.

So while all these people — from the beggar sleeping in the street to the discriminated rich person who is out to use the system – are talking about rights and justice, they are in effect doing very different things. One wants to survive and have some kind of satisfaction on the lowest steps of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. The other is only concerned with the Pyramid of wants and lusts.

So my critique of the term “justice” is that the same word can mean very different things, and can also be a very egoistic and manipulative thing, not at all concerned with peace (which involves some kind of concord, a WE) but only with personal winnings (I).

In very simple terms: Justice, especially if demanded for ourselves, can be self-centered, an ego thing concerned with winning and gain usually in tune with the normative win-lose model of our world.

Peace, the kind of peace I talk about, can by definition not be that. Venusian peace is a win-win affair, reminiscent of music making.

There is obviously much more to say about this. This is just a preliminary sketch (but still more than the usual fare).

When noting the non-obvious identity of peace and justice, or even the obvious non-identity of peace and justice, one can ask:

Which is the greater, peace or justice?

That question is not amiss nor academic.  Sometimes, quite often in fact, we need to make our priorities clear. Instead of answering A or B I want to rephrase the question.

Which is more important, that you, or me, or the alto or tenor part (or whichever part you sing in) is dressed most magnificently, sing loudest, fastest and strongest, gets the most attention, applause and flowers from the audience — OR that we sing as with one voice, unite in phrasing, breathing and feeling and try to realize as much as possible the conductor’s and, ultimately, the composer’s intentions?

What would YOU answer?

Maybe: I don’t want to choose, I want both!

Yes, in the best of worlds justice and peace go harmoniously hand in hand. I just want to point out that in our less perfect world the matter is often unclear and complicated.

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Peace walker reflection

(Some thoughts about what it takes to be a peace walker)

I look around in our world and what do I see?  Violence all over.

  • Common sense becoming more and more uncommon.
  • Moderation becoming a rarity.
  • Extremism is no longer extreme, it is the common thing. (Which does not mean that we know about our extremism. Unconscious extremism; a strange beast. )

People are radicalized, but what does that mean?

Radical comes from the word “radix”, which means root. But it does not mean going to the root of things, walking round the proverbial elephant and noting different sides of it, considering different aspects of the question.

Radical now means being more or less VIOLENT.

Good people, can we (as we like to sing) give peace a chance? I see so few people REALLY caring about peace. Nobody says a bad word about it, but it is the walk, not the talk that counts. Especially for peace walkers.

Two central aspects of peace, as I now see it, is “Ahimsa” and honesty.

Ahimsa means “harmlessness”. It is for me not the same as non-violence, which is more known.

Non-violence is a choice not to use violence (but you can still feel rage and anger inside). Ahimsa I see as the non-ability to be violent. The war weeds are more or less cleared away.

Obviously only a few of us have reached that level, but I also think that that should be the goal and aim of peace workers/ walkers.

So why bring honesty into the picture?

Because lying and dishonesty is a kind of minor war.  Not black but grey violence, not large-scale but small-scale battle, not outer but internal disharmony. And from these seeds bloom the flowers of bloody wars.

I hear many people demanding truth, fighting for truth. But I see no Honesty Movement (although we do have Radical honesty).

Truth sounds like the grandest thing on Earth, but I think it is not good enough. Why? Because your truth and mine differ, and somehow we have this idea that there should only be one truth. So which one is it, yours or mine? Let’s fight it out!!

And so, once again, we turn into the Street of Violence.

Many people hate, torture, oppress  and kill in the name of Truth. Truth does not automatically create peace, on the contrary it creates black and white polarization, tension, conflict, antagonism and agony. Harmless it is NOT.

Honesty is something else. Honesty is the mirror. Honesty means being able to say: “You are no saint, but neither am I.” Honesty is the impulse leading us to try to be better than what we criticize.

The Bible talks about “he who is without guilt…” It is honesty that tells us that we cannot cast the first stone. We are not good enough for that.

“Truth” tells us to blame, accuse, point fingers, cast stones and drop bombs. So Old Testament, don’t you think? If we were really good, really harmless, we wouldn’t want to stone anybody.

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Polarization, an enemy of peace

When  thinking about peace and war, the impulse towards one or the other, the direction we choose to walk in, I have arrived at this strong suspicion:

Polarization is one of the main obstacles to peace.

Polarization = stressing differences, almost nurturing differences so that tension builds up and we can fight (one of Homo sapiens’ favorite, if not admitted, activities).

The expression “unity in diversity” points to two aspect of the question.

Diversity affirms variation, difference, individuality, being who YOU are, not just being a clone or imitation of somebody else.

Unity concerns the possibility and impulse towards, yes, unity. Listening to each other, trying to understand each other and moving in the same positive direction in spite of our differences, even with the help of our different perspectives.

Both factors can lead to or away from harmony.

Too much diversity makes us dense egotists who does not understand that there is enjoyment, fun and gain in doing things together. (This realization is very much present in music making. Play and sing more together!)

To much unity can turn into boring, tyrannical, Big Brother conformism, making people small, identical cogs in a big smog-producing industrial machine. It can also turn us into all too predictable middle of the road kind of people who cannot handle differences in thought, feeling or skin color (in spite of mouthing “vive la difference” and similar phrases).

Luckily there is a middle ground which is not “middle of the road” but a golden mean: Unity in diversity.
We need to see these two unbalanced impulses realistically. The third, attraction to the golden mean, is probably the weakest of them all. That is what peace walkers need to water.

We enjoy conflicts too much. We might not call them conflicts but it is the emotional energy that counts. 

Look at what media are feeding us with, and how we gulp it down. Scandals, sensations, crises, debates (comes from the word for strike or hit), sports (a win-lose domain), politics, wars.

If Man is a musical instrument (and he is) media are playing Allegro Barbaro on him. The music that comes from our soundboard when watching somber, dark, violent and quarreling news, is somber, dark, violent and quarreling.

We cannot only blame media. If nobody watched all this, it would not be broadcast.  We actually enjoy  almost being glued to the violence spewing tube.

When we recognize and admit our enjoyment of conflict and polarization we also see that it goes against our impulse for peace, that harmonization and polarization  are two very different things.

But conflict is not all.

We also enjoy the other extreme, conformism, too much. We derive much satisfaction from articulating what in our circle is considered “right” opinions, “right” thinking. A million flies can’t be wrong, neither can twenty friends.

These twenty friends, however, may not really be in tune with each other. Maybe they just enjoy the cozy feeling of being in a group, the warm sensation of not being alone in their opinion.

This kind of self-deception can be marginal and of no importance. It can also be  very serious and create a kind of sticky mental atmosphere where any kind of divergence or difference is viewed as a mistake, even treachery.

Safety in numbers. All together now!

Conveniently enough we often move between these extremes, sometimes enjoying the martial energy of violent conflict, sometimes the warm, cuddly reassurance of thinking alike. 

But as the proverb say: Extremes are neighbors. The real opposite here is balance.

In that direction, as far as I can see, lies harmony. That is, peace.

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Peace walk with me

Moving from peace talk to peace walk

Self-delusion exists in all spheres of life.  Of course. Why  should a certain life domain be protected from this virus?

It also exists in the peace domain. If you ask people “Are you for peace or war?” probably no one, not even military people, would answer “war”. But words and talk is cheap. Walk is more costly.

Differentiating between talk and walk is made  difficult by the very vagueness of the word peace. What exactly do we mean by it?

Some say a definition  is not needed, everybody already knows what peace is.

Maybe… Until they are asked to define it. Then things get more difficult, more floating…

But if we don’t really know what we mean by peace, don’t know what it is, only what it isn’t  — peace is very often defined negatively:  absence of outright war, hunger, injustice, poverty, etc. — then differentiating between peace talk  and walk is not going to be easy.

The whole field is mentally messy, vague and unclear.

Contrast this with the clarity not only desired but demanded in matters of war. Soldiers are rigorously trained; exact planning, strategies, protocols and objectives are de rigeur. You cannot  wage war with a hippie go lucky attitude, unless you are one of Kelly’s  heroes.

“Hey, let’s shoot a bit. Who knows, we might get lucky and hit some enemies. If not, I suggest a joint and a glass of wine!”

Let me try to be as orderly as the military folks are. What do I mean by peace walk?

Most importantly I mean bringing ourselves into the picture. Know thyself, thy peace side and war side.

One can “work for peace” while turning a blind eye to some aspects of oneself. Like our lively enjoyment of football, pro wrestling, heated political debates on TV, partaking in demonstrations with lots of aggression and angry shouting.

Amazons for peace?

I am not expecting anybody to be a saint. I am certainly not one. And shouting has its place.

No, I am talking about self-reflection.

“Charity begins at home”, so people say. That’s good advice for peace as well. But let’s not forget the second part of the saying, often forgotten or not known: Charity begins at home, but  should not end there.

So, peace work/walk should begin at home, but not end there.

To really “peace walk” we should start with ourselves, but definitely not stop there. Joining inner and outer results in better peace than if we work for global peace while watering our own war seeds.

That’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde both trying to control the steering wheel.

Introspection can also show us that:

The model of war — close to the model of sports (there will be one winner and one or several losers) — is so common and widespread in our world that it easily becomes invisible. We breathe it like air.

Mass media is built on this model. What is constantly highlighted, also in social media, is what is sensational, odd, strange, conflicting, violent, hurtful. War has a seat of honor in the news, peace might (on a good day) enter through the kitchen door….

It takes effort and sharp thinking to separate ourselves from the win-lose norm of society. Just as air in our urban areas is impure and smoggy, so is the emotional and mental atmosphere of our media-ridden world.

— So what is a real peace walker then?

A person who is not free of war-like impulses, but who is aware of and seriously tries not water hos own war seeds, to hold these weeds in check.

This makes the peace walker more tolerant and wise than a mere peace talker. He knows that when he is pointing a finger at someone three fingers are pointing at him. So he understands that, yes, there is blame on both sides. It is not the fault of ONE if TWO are  quarreling and fighting.

This way the much needed impulse of self-betterment — trying to be better than what we criticize — enters the picture.

We move beyond the blaming attitude: “Why are you so stupid and violent!?” when we see the  violence in ourselves. Understanding that we are sitting in the same planetary boat the word “brotherly” becomes more than just euphonious sounding prattle.

Talk turns into walk.

Aim high!

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If you don’t want weeds, don’t water the (war) seeds

It can be daunting perhaps to follow my reasoning and my “peace map” building. But from a birds eye’s view there are simple things we can do. We can ask ourselves

“Water or not water?”

I am talking about the war seeds, the impulses that draw and attract us to conflict, confrontation and quarrel.

In heavier forms against direct violence, and war.

A simple but not easy (and very important) choice:  Shall  I water my war seeds, or not?

Introspection is part of the process. Trying to see clearly what is happening, where I put my energy.

If I imagine myself to be a peace-worker while furiously shouting angry slogans at peace demonstrations, something is amiss. I might work for peace (Venus), but my way of doing it is violent and Martian.

The means will color the goal, which will not be peaceful anymore.  A paradoxical, dissonant note is in the picture.

So don’t hate hate. That’s like trying to put out a forest fire with fire. The fire will just spread.

And don’t water the war seeds. That’s like watering and saying nice words to weeds.

Try to keep your garden clean and realize that YOU are probably the most important tree in your garden.