We are living in a profoundly beautiful, yet complicated world. Within some, but not all of our reach, are new advances in science, technology and medicine. Access to education and new technology have become available in ways that we could not have imagined even ten years ago. We are offered a wide array of food and housing options. Biting into an apple, we no longer must hesitate in fear of finding a worm. Where once our reach was limited, we can travel the globe with comfort and ease, enriching our lives with the cultures and values of our global friends and colleagues. More people are working for the good of the planet than ever before. At the same time, well meaning and capable people are developing and funding sustainable and effective projects to serve the planet and those who inhabit it. There are many reasons to be happy and grateful. There is much to celebrate.
Yet increasing violence, political divisiveness and domination, devastation of our planet, and disconnection from our families and communities continues. Our hearts are breaking. There are wars on many fronts. We are at war with each other, with our neighbors, with our communities, with other nations. The earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past forty years. Rapid climate change is contributing to devastating natural disasters. There is a palpable climate of disconnect, violence, and neglect.
We feel responsibility for what’s happening in our world and decide to become involved. We become advocates seeking to eliminate or at the very least, mitigate local and global injustices. We conduct research to better understand the source of despair. We create organizations to address issues that trouble us most. We volunteer to provide humanitarian aid, therapy, raise funds, conduct trainings, facilitate community dialogues, plan strategies, and work to help resolve and at times, transform others’ problems and concerns. We use our expertise to help solve problems. We share our ways and our values with those whom we perceive may be interested, or less informed, or less enlightened. We pray, meditate, sing, dance, create murals, and enrich our religious and spiritual practices, becoming more involved in our churches, synagogues, mosques, and sanghas. Joining like-minded organizations, we volunteer at the local food bank, block the construction of dams and nuclear power plants, save our libraries, join political groups, and travel the world offering support and solutions to confounding global issues.
There is no denying that our heartfelt intentions and valiant efforts have helped to make our communities and the world a better place. We stumble and fall, and we get up and try again. Yet even through our best intentions, we may find that we have unconsciously and unintentionally caused harm. People no longer feel safe. The aid we offer actually disenfranchises those we hoped to assist. Peace talks fail and war resumes. Our well-meaning efforts have caused trouble and potentially irreparable harm.
Let us begin this PeaceAble Community of Practice discussion by sharing our thoughts and experiences in relationship to this question:
What is required of us to live and work in ways that do not harm others or the planet?