September 12th, 2013 11:03 EST
We Can Choose To Solve Conflict Without Violence
For centuries we have regularly and routinely attacked and killed each other. It seems to be our go to " response. In this moment we are considering launching a punitive assault on Syria. Is violence really in our DNA?
What perpetuates the thinking that conflict or disagreement is ideally solved by brute force? What perpetuates the division within Islam, Judaism and Christianity that fighting is the answer? Sunnis and Shiites attack each other; Protestants and Catholics have regularly attacked each other. Gangs regularly attack other gangs. Family members fight with each other. Violence is a habit. What would it take to kick this habit?
What we each really want in life is to be happy, to love and to be able to live without fear. What new wisdom can we call on in responding to the situation in Syria, and other events locally, nationally and globally, that do not involve more violence and attacks?
Take the Kingdom of Bhutan. How does a small country high in the Himalayas learn to focus on, measure and care about a happiness index? As a country it values the rights and greatness of its people. Its focus on a National Happiness Index puts the quality of life ahead of the accumulation of things. They feel they are the consciousness of the modern world " to show up and pay attention to the things that really matter " the value of people and the focus on happiness as the key to a sustainable life and world. Showing up aware and conscious allows them to be intentional in their choices.
Consider Fr. Greg Boyle " a Jesuit priest who works in one of the toughest gang areas of Los Angeles. He has worked for years helping gangs see that behind the gang affiliation is a person " a unique, dynamic and divinely inspired being. He started Homeboy Industries " a collection of companies to move gang members off the streets and into viable and successful work and life opportunities. He helps gang members see that they have choices other than violence.
Regular people routinely come together and solve conflict without violence. It is happening all around us " in those places that tune in to a larger view of the importance, value and greatness of life. And greatness is the key.
Rarely do religion and science agree, but there is one place where they share thinking; they agree that we are each born with intrinsic greatness. Science supports that our DNA predisposes us to be truly great at some things more than at others. All faiths share a belief in our inner divinity or greatness. There is an element of greatness in each of us " this is key to a creating a non-violent world.
No one has any more or less greatness than another; we are each valuable and important. Each of us can develop our uniqueness and greatness to bring it to the world " to transform our world. This isn`t false altruism and Pollyanna optimism. Instead, it comes from the belief that people are intrinsically valuable and that war or any killing is untenable " unacceptable. To take this intrinsic greatness from our world because of violence or attack shortchanges our world; we all suffer the loss of who that person could have been, the greatness that could have been brought and the lost impact on the world. How do we learn to look at each and see the spark of greatness instead of defaulting to our habit of intolerance, hatred and indifference?
Just consider for a moment that a show of force or violence in any conflict is completely off the table " not even to be considered. It should be entirely unacceptable for violence to stop someone from realizing their greatness in life. So, how can we use our collective voices " the power of millions of people " to force our governments to hold Syria fully accountable without escalating violence? I think our answer is in developing a habit of greatness. "
As a species, we are programmed to fight to ensure we survive. But after millions of years of development, we don`t have to allow the survival brain to determine our responses. Our more evolved neocortex brain enables us to stop, think, evaluate and choose; we don`t have to live as instinctually as our early ancestors did. We can choose to see and value the greatness in each other in as much as we can choose to fight or attack. All things in life are a choice. How do we become present enough in each moment to have the clarity and understanding to see the greatness in others and let that influence our response " between countries, employees, neighbors, partners and families?
Our solution to solving challenges and living in a more peaceful world is in a greatness focus " of making the focus on greatness our habit. We have been encouraged and even taught to believe that some of us are more valuable than others " that those who believe one set of beliefs are more correct, more favored or more significant than others. But look deep into the DNA of each person. That is where we find the unique combination of attributes that makes each person tremendous, capable and as important as any other because of his/her specific talents, strengths and passions. This happens without regard to geography, social status, religion or ethnicity. Everyone matters. Everyone has something important to contribute. Focusing on greatness can shake us out of the survival brain bomb-and-attack habit of how to do life.
Pope Francis` prayer vigil against any additional violence in Syria gathered over 70,000 people. It showed that with focus, we can rally. We can use our collective greatness to make significant things happen. Our collective voice is loud. We can depose despots, stop gang violence, end religious conflicts and solve problems. We have the collective power to influence; hundred of thousands of people, focused on greatness, can create the power and influence to make things happen. We can start new habits. We can make greatness a habit.