"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Shalom" amid unending war?

"Shalom," according to Strong's Concordance, means "completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full." 
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
 

How many years have we been at war now? Will there ever be any peace?
We are the world's most powerful nation militarily. Our citizens can own guns. We have security systems in our houses. We build gated neighborhoods. The list goes on.
The U.S.A., the "United States of Afraid." Why do we not feel safe or peaceful?
The United States of Afraid
Here we are in what is supposed to be a season of "peace on earth, goodwill toward men," and there is none. The words of Jesus are forgotten, or ignored. 
One of the books I've read this year is "Peace Is Every Step: The Path to Mindfulness in Everyday Life," by renowned Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk who survived the war.
I had made these notes on his teachings before yesterday's horror in California. They are more pertinent than ever when he wrote them in 1990.
As upset as I've been with the terrorism in the world, and the growing fascism in America, reading this book  has helped reconnect me with Jesus' teachings. His observations help calm me and put this current insanity in some perspective. But they also teach me that inner peace amid all this turmoil, which Jesus spoke about too, comes only with work, with being mindful that only "now" matters, that you count your blessings. I have to reread these ideas often.
His teachings are so needed among Christians and people of all faiths, or of no faiths. Terrorism, refugees, war, hatred, fear, poverty, "social media," intolerance, selfishness, environmental crisis--which current event do you need? His words apply. 
Would that those spewing hate and intolerance as well as those attacking and killing innocent people would read them, and the words of Jesus,  and find "Shalom." Consider these exerpts:

Lack of peace
  • "Anyone who has made us suffer is undoubtedly suffering too."
  • "A fresh way of being peace, of making peace is needed.
  • Peace is based on  respect for life, the spirit of reverence for life." 
  • "Poverty and oppression bring war. In our times, every war involves all countries." 
  • "Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile."
Narrow -minded religious fanaticism 
  • "Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology...all systems of thought are guiding means' they are not absolute truth." 
  • "Do not think that the knowledge you presently posses is changeless, absolute truth--truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge."
  • "Do not force others, including children to adopt your views."
  • "Do not use the religious community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party."
Poverty
  •  "The wealth of one society  is made of the poverty of the other. Wealth is made of non-wealth elements and poverty is made of  non poverty elements."
Technology
  •  "When we watch bad TV, we become it." (This was written pre-Facebook, but it certainly applies."
  • "We are victims of our own telephones." (written pre-cell phones)
The environment 
  • "Everything co exists--we cannot be just by ourselves alone.
  • "The forests are our lungs outside of our bodies. The sun is our heart outside our bodies.
  •  "We are imprisoned in our small selves,  thinking only of  the comfortable conditions of this small self, while we destroy the large self."
 Mindfulness
  •    "...we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. it enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment." 
  • ..."the eucharist is mindfulness--awareness..." 
  • "...walk as if kissing the earth..."
  • "Everything we do is an act of poetry or a painting if we do it with mindfulness."  
  • "By taking good care of the present moment we take good care of the future." 
  • "Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering."
The Future
  • "Use the suffering of the 20th Century as compost so that together we can create flowers for the 21st Century." 
  • "The flower of tolerance to see and appreciate cultural diversity is one flower we can cultivate for the children of the 21st Century. Another flower is the truth of suffering."
It is a difficult journey, from Jeremiah's "Peace, peace, there is no peace," to finding "Shalom."

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