Barriers to peace: a Conversation with UN Ambassador Chowdhury

Well THAT was a great way to start a Monday! This is what my FB post was this morning after an inspiring conference call this morning with UN Ambassador Chowdhury, the primary mover behind the United Nation’s effort to create a culture of peace. It was part of an online class I am taking through the National Peace Academy. You should do it too. Check out some mind and spirit-stretching possibilities here

One of the biggest challenges to peace according to Ambassador Chowdhury, was that peace to most of us, is an “untouchable” concept. It is somewhere “out there” beyond the pale blue light, if you will. Most of us see it as an objective, global state that feels completely removed from our daily living. This is the main barrier, Chowdhury says, to creating a culture of peace. The challenge is learning how to “bring it home”, calling others to the inner, communal, and structural work of creating a culture of peace.

This makes a lot of sense to me. The idea of peace is loaded with hopes and expectations – and has a bit of  “woo woo” in it. But I would add that in addition to peace being an obscure “out there” concept, is can also take the form of an “in here” or inner solitary pursuit.

In faith circles, peace is frequently spoken of as something almost magical that is given to one after some difficulty is overcome. In this way of being in the world, the individual’s work is really to be a portal to receive peace from the divine and often that act itself is the highest good. Although there is an “in the moment” sweetness to this, it can also perpetuate a kind of learned helplessness. Additionally, when you do finally achieve that inner state of peace you’ve been hoping, praying, giving up chocolate for, VOILA! you have arrived. That is the touchdown, the home run, the goal. The end. But here’s the thing: that is not really the end – it’s only the beginning (or at least the midway point.)

The good news is that when we have that inner sense of peace, of shalom, as the Hebrews called it, it shows. And it can form and transform those with whom we make contact. Peace shared, is like a glass prism: more compelling, brilliant, and beautiful to us – and to others with many facets. It’s a win/win for everyone. When we share it, we continue that chain of connection to the big picture of creating a more peace-filled world.

Putting flesh on “world peace” is engaging, challenging work. Whether this sense of well-being is personal or more conceptual, it is always a gift to be shared.

I left the call feeling like I might cry. Wow, it is good to feel connected to important work. I hope you have a beginning like this to your Monday sometime soon and even moreso: keep at your good work in the world. And when you can, I’d love it if you share it with me. Chances are, I will share it also. Til then: may peace be with you.

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