Wishing for Internal Harmony

I bet you thought my next wish would be for world peace.

I don’t want to waste birthday wish  magic on something that, at our present stage, is impossible. It’s not that I don’t want some kind of peaceful resolution to the conflicts that plague us, but that I simply don’t believe that humankind has developed enough to be able  to overcome our innate greed, protectiveness, war-like sensibilities, or our desire to define ourselves by an “us and them” mentality.

On an individual basis, however, I believe we can work toward peace and harmony. I believe that peace begins within. If individuals have confidence in who they are, what they believe, and where they fit in this world without trying to force those same thoughts and beliefs onto others, then they have taken a step toward creating a more peaceful world.

Today another good friend is celebrating her birthday. Tanya is an amazing woman who impresses me with her own inner confidence and  faith in herself. I wouldn’t describe her as peaceful (she’s more like lightning contained in a bottle), but her inner peace always gives me hope. So today I borrow from her birthday wish magic to wish for internal harmony for all.

Tanya and her son Eli two years ago, finding peace in the pool.

Tanya and her son Eli two years ago, finding peace in the pool.

This wish actually comes from reading a comment on my post yesterday, a comment that made me ask some serious questions about myself. Am I too close minded when it comes to religious extremists? Do I practice what I preach when it comes to not trying to force my opinion onto others?

The comment refers to a post I wrote a long time ago called “Hell is Living in the Bible Belt” where I express my disdain for the religious road signs that dot  the highways throughout Kansas and Indiana. I re-read my own post to ask myself these difficult questions. In the post I say that I believe in freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion. I also say that I envy people who have true faith because I’m not sure what I believe. In reality, I have no problem with the signs that say things like “Trust Jesus” or “Jesus is  love” or contain actual quotes from his words.

I have more of a problem with signs that say “If you don’t find Jesus you will burn in the  boiling fire pits of hell for all eternity!!!!!!” (Okay, I never saw a sign with those exact words, but you know what I mean).

I find those signs especially unappealing when hurtling  down  the highway in a machine. (Did I mention that Nathan, Sarah and I had a very near miss the other day, when an  accident  happened right next to us?)

I have the same problem when a fellow Jew tells me that I am not Jewish enough if I don’t ___________. In other words, I have no problem with people believing what they believe and talking about what they believe, but I do have a problem with being cursed or told I’m going to hell or told I am inferior because I do not believe the same thing.

I try not to do that with my own words.

Today a friend posted this on Facebook.

The message against bullying is one that I believe. I don’t think its right to make fun of others. I don’t think its right to make jokes about others. I don’t think its right to judge others based off of one aspect of their personality or appearance. However, I wouldn’t share this post on Facebook because of the last line. Telling someone they will be heartless if they don’t share the post is bullying.

Telling someone they are going to hell if they have doubts or don’t believe the same thing as you do, is bullying and threatening.

Telling someone that their love is going to damn everyone simply because you believe it is sinful, is bullying, and threatening, and unfair.

What does all of this have to do with inner harmony or peace? I think that believing in something is important. Having a moral compass and following  it with confidence is priceless. Having faith  in yourself and your thoughts and dreams is invaluable. However, if you feel the need to push those beliefs on someone else in order to validate them, then you have not achieved inner peace or harmony.

I suppose that simply writing about these things could be seen as an act of trying to push my beliefs onto someone else. Or teaching about arts and  theatre and their value to society could be seen as trying to validate my own belief system.

The difference lies in expectations. I don’t expect my words to change people’s minds or thoughts. I don’t expect everyone to leave my classroom passionate advocates for the arts. I do hope that my words or my lessons encourage people to think, or question, or wonder.

I don’t ask people  to think the way I think in order to be my friend or to achieve some specific goal in the after life. I don’t say “If you think differently than I,  then I will not talk to you, tolerate you, or have anything to do with you.”

Inner peace comes from the  ability to say, “I believe this, they believe something different. Their belief doesn’t hurt me, my belief doesn’t hurt them. That is all.”

Now, I’m not saying I’ve achieved this inner peace. If I had, I wouldn’t have worried about the comment on my post, or worry at all about what other people think of me. I would just be who I am.

That is why I make this wish today. I wish for all of us to achieve inner harmony. To find that place inside ourselves where we can be content with who we are without trying to change anyone else or justify our beliefs on the backs of someone else. Only through that could we ever hope for world peace.

 

 

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. StuHN
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 08:55:52

    I like, applaud, and second you wish for inner peace. It is so needed in our world. Thanks Lisa.

    Reply

  2. lisaspiral
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 09:03:24

    I agree that achieving inner peace simply puts more peace out into the world. Bravo.

    Reply

  3. Donna
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 09:06:50

    Well I DO think your words can change people. And I also think we model the change we want in the world so keep on writing and sharing Lisa.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Finding Passover | The Opening of Doors
  5. Allan Douglas (@AllanDouglasDgn)
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 11:08:35

    Nicely said Lisa. I agree that the message gets lost sometimes. The Bible tells us that we are not here to judge one another; that is Gods job, but to follow Him. As a Christian, I am told to share my faith with others, not bludgeon them over the head with it. In the end, the life I lead is a better witness than all the words I could spew.

    Reply

  6. Barbarann Ayars
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 16:31:41

    I read most of your posts with great interest, as you know. Recognizing you as a clear thinker, and always honest with yourself on these pages, and given the subject that was at hand, I felt it fair to essentially say what about thus ad what about that and you said…..whatever…in a previous post. Etc. Not to explain myself, because you get it exactly. The scripture verse re judging comes from the mouth of Jesus, when He warns do not judge lest ye be judged. Here He means do not judge someone else’s faith, lest someone will judge yours. That is, indeed, God’s call. The warning is quite specific and in context. And vies long with that log in your own eye reference thing that is merely another way of saying it. Because Christians are so often so willing to nitpick another Christian’s beliefs or behaviors, this is a good admonishment t o take to heart. tending to one’s own knitting is the better part of wisdom on this subject. But being human, we don’t do that naturally. It is a discipline.

    The problem you are articulating seems to me to be placed upon fundamentalist Christians whose teaching is more often than not to shove hellfire and damnation down your throat. In my denomination we call that failing to sell the product.I would argue that this type of believer has a bit of trouble finding inner peace and harmony while chastising not only nonbelievers but believers who find their methods at the very least unattractive and at worst give the rest of us a bad name. you call it bullying.

    If I feel compelled to witness to you for Christ, I would go about it very differently since I’d want your ear and your heart. Clubbing you with a tWo by four would obviously not be a winning method. Such is my own teaching. In my denomination we think that’s God’s work. My assignment would be to tell you what the Bible says Jesus did for you, which is all about Easter. And the source for me for peace which brings inner harmony. The rest is up to God. Reading C.S.Lewis clears a lot of this up, at which he is especially good, given he used to be a dedicated atheist.

    The Fundamentalist Christian places little value on your discomfort with his message or his delivery. But he doesn’t seem to know he didn’t deliver. I am afraid I won’t be caught championing the methods of Fundamentalism, but your thoughts did trigger m e to wonder if what you feel is akin to those who would remove the Christmas creche from public places, or erase symbols like the icthus or menorah. I doubt it but the thought did occur.

    I’ll post again when the Supremes hand down their decision. I am so thankful that we can access the audio as they interact, challenge and examine each other’s thinking.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Mar 27, 2013 @ 18:35:47

      No I am not anti-Creche or anything like that. I think celebrating religious and cultural traditions is a valuable experience for all (as long as everyone doesn’t assume that only one symbol matters). When I was in Kansas I had this weird experience when asked to present to Sarah’s class about Hannukah. I’ve done this before, so I had no problem with doing it, but this was the first time I felt like I was on display in a fishbowl. “Look at the Jew, isn’t she strange.” It was such a surreal feeling.

      By the way, I love C.S. Lewis and I admire Christ’s teachings. I just can’t make the leap of faith that is required to believe he was the son of God.

      Reply

  7. thebestdiggerBarbarann Ayars
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 22:27:37

    I use my copy of the Torah to study the first five chapters of my Bible. I’m struck with how so little has changed in human relationships and find the material stupefyingly helpful to the courses I take for study in class to study Genesis. We’re up to chap 36 and I am entertained at the soap opera level of the characters How similar the behaviors of today. Likewise I note how Scripture teaches the same appropriate and applicable lessons that should fix what we find so painful if only we paid attention to those tenets. Working my way through Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, the rape of Dinah by Shechem who wants to marry her and the failure of her brothers to defend her, the stories of Rachel and Rebekah who died giving birth to Benjamin, and lies buried by the side of the road….the use by Sarah of Hagar, and on and on. I need a cheat sheet to keep track of who was damaging who. You surely know that making that leap of faith is not like falling off a log for Christians. It is an all or nothing thing we do. I mean, death on a cross is excruciating. Who would do that for me? Who? The Son of God alone would do that. The shroud of Turin is quite confounding. I believe it is the shroud of Jesus, protected by the Crusaders.So I find the miracle of rising from the dead an easier leap of faith. And I enjoy watching and hearing the many finds across my lifetime corroborating many locations and truths stated in the Bible. The Dead Sea scrolls are mind bending for me. I know that yours is the generally stated difficulty Jews have to understand the Christian acceptance. Having dated a Jew when I was much younger taught me much about the religious life of a Jewish boy, and understood how rattled were his parents and mine that we were cooking up some real feelings for each other. That level of respect is what supports useful dialogue, solely missing in places like Facebook, home of so much vitriol. This forum is much more satisfying and informative. I thank you continually for your faithfulness to this part of your craft.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Mar 28, 2013 @ 07:02:22

      Thank you for your kind words. Just so you know, I also question some tenets of Judaism. While that is my religion of childhood (and perhaps my religion of choice) there are many things in life that make me question any form of religion. So the leap of faith that would be required to believe in Jesus as Son of God is also something I struggle with in other aspects of spirituality or religion. Perhaps I simply don’t have enough faith in faith. (Tee hee hee, that made me giggle). Anyway, its all fascinating.

      Reply

  8. Andra Watkins
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 17:56:15

    No matter how hard I try, I come up short when looking at others. Most of my friends and I vote and worship differently, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I respect and love them just the way they are.

    I try to apply that principle to people I don’t know. It gets harder, with all the ranting posts and such. But those people have a whole lifetime of experiences that made them who they are, and that’s valid, whether or not I agree.

    Reply

  9. Trackback: PEACE | We dream of things that never were and say: "Why not?"

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