Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thoughts on peace

I remember a scene in the Sandra Bullock movie where she’s a detective who goes undercover at a beauty pageant (saw it on a plane, don’t remember the title) and during the interview part of the pageant, she says, almost crying “I really do want world peace.”

Earlier this year, a man named  Stephen Danger Shoemaker aka DJ Marmalade (don’t know if it’s his real name) created an event on Facebook inviting people to a worldwide day of peace. Even though, as one of the comments he received said, September 21st is the official Global Peace Day, I liked his initiative and there’s certainly room for more than one peace day a year. His proposition and rules (or guidelines as my friend Lisa called them) seem a good place to start. He wrote:

My proposition is simple:
One day, March 4th, we all stick to three simple rules that will make the world a little bit more bearable. Feel free to partake in this before and long after then … I want word to spread and allow this to have as big of an impact as possible.
This event is to take place everywhere we go in the world, preferably all the time.
Rule #1.
Say not a single unkind thing about anyone or anything. If at all possible, try not to even think a nasty thought. If we do, reflect on why it was that we thought to say it in the first place.
Rule #2.
Show everyone we cross paths with some genuine human compassion. Be it with a smile or kind words, just spread some love.
Rule #3.
Make not one person the exception to the rule. Not everyone deserves to have roses thrown at their feet and have a holiday in their honor, but nobody deserves to feel alone. Reach out. Talk to someone new. Care about them, and we will be cared for in return.

Mr. Shoemaker closed his invitation with the following, and there’s no sense in paraphrasing his words as he said it well and succinctly:
I know many of us will simply accept the invite with no intention to give this any genuine effort, but "Attend" anyway, not to look like a good person, but to look like we aren't a bad one. And for those of us who do that, please just remove yourself from the event.
This can be big. If we all band together, well, maybe we can all start living a little bit nicer lives. Maybe this won't work for more than one day; maybe it will. I honestly don't know what will happen, but what I do know is this: if we can get at least one day of happiness and peace out of this, well, I'd more than consider that a success.
This is not intended to be a "Let's be nice for one day and go back to our old ways the day after" kind of thing. It is meant to give us all a little more incentive to be better people.
This is not a hippie or a religious movement. This is just an attempt at brighting the world up a bit.

The thing that hit me most were the stats on the event: 11,728,347 were invited. Talk about the Wella Balsam effect (you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on).

1,792,952 Attending – as far as marketing goes, a 16% response is good

8,087,265 Awaiting Replay – I imagine these are the people who have FB accounts and sign on every three months or who don’t notice that little Event Invitations icon in the upper right corner. Just think if they had signed up to attend…

447,947 Maybe attending and 1,400,183 Not attending – hmm, on the one hand, I appreciate their honesty – the maybe attending had to think about whether or not they agreed or could follow the rules while the not attending, they weren’t into it or up to it. Maybe they were just busy that day.

On the other hand it saddens me, could they not even try? Are their hearts so hardened that the idea of trying to not say unkind things for one day didn’t appeal to them? Does compassion not resonate? Were they unwilling to just be nice to anyone who crossed their path? Maybe they just thought it was a stupid idea.

Am I naïve in thinking that when asked the simple question “do you want peace?” the simple answer is “yes”? That even the most bigoted, prejudiced, racist terrorist you could find, if asked whether her or she wants peace, would answer yes. Unfortunately, they may want those they hate to peacefully disappear or they go to war to create peace. Maybe we’re just not ready for world peace.

I truly want world peace, and at least 1,792,952 other people do to. Maybe we'll have it in our lifetime.


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