You may have heard the saying, "world peace begins at home," but what does that mean to you personally? To me, this means first looking within ourselves for answers.
Leo Tolstoy wrote, many years ago, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." People tend to look furthest away from themselves for fault: at different countries, different religions, different political parties or even just different personal habits. We can all see what is "wrong" with the other guy. If only they would change to be more like us, we think the world would be a more loving place.
To make real change, we need to reverse that thinking. We need to search deep into our own actions, behaviors, beliefs and start to do the only work we really can control – within ourselves.
In his books Deep Change, and Building the Bridge as You Walk on It, author Robert E. Quinn writes about addressing our own hypocrisy. What is it we are doing that perpetuates our unhappiness or a lack of peace in our lives? What kinds of self-abuse are we engaging in? Overeating? Not exercising? Chronically late or missing deadlines? Over indulging in alcohol or smoking cigarettes? What about the negative self-talk so many of us listen to? There are many questions we can ask ourselves to begin to better understand the power that we hold for creating peace within.
This is something we all need to do for ourselves – not for someone else to tell you what they think is "wrong" with you, but for you to examine what self-abuse you are engaging in. World peace begins within.
Then we need to begin to slowly move towards peace without. In our families, raising our children to be empowered, showing them what a healthy, loving relationship looks like. Treating our partners with friendship and respect. Caring for our aging parents in whatever way we are able.
When Gloria Steinem presented at UW-Eau Claire in 2007, I asked for her ideas on working to end domestic violence. Part of her profound response was that domestic violence should be called "original violence," because historically tyrants of the world have backgrounds of family violence and were abused or abandoned as children. World peace begins at home.
Moving out into our communities and our jobs. Do you engage in gossip around the water cooler? Passive-aggressive behavior, eye rolling and constant complaining are forms of abusive workplace behaviors. How about driving in anger? World peace begins in our community.
Then we can move forward into the world. World peace ripples like water, and we are the stone.