Being at Peace
We all talk about peace and harmony as if it were something rare and precious. And indeed, human history, current events and personal experience teach us that peace and harmony are really very difficult to achieve. Every day, at home, in the work place, in our local communities and in the world at large, for the most part what we see is conflict and violence both psychological and physical. But why should peace and harmony among people be such an illusive and seemingly distant ideal?
It seems to me that peace and harmony should be natural and common place if only we could remember a few basic facts. First of all, we ought to remember that we are – all of us – so very, very alike. We all want to have the same things; and we all want to avoid the same things. We all want to be safe, to have the essential requisites for a good life, to be happy, and to be respected. We all want to avoid danger to ourselves, deprivation, misery and abuse. In this, we are all just the same, no matter if we are Chinese, European, African, Arab or whatever.
We have all heard sayings like “put your-self in the other fellow’s shoes” and so on. As a matter of fact, this simple mental exercise by itself can go a very long way toward preventing misunderstanding and conflict. If you are a parent having problems with a child, put yourself in his or her place for a moment. If you are a child having problems with a parent, put yourself in his or her place for a moment – try to see things from his or her point of view. This goes for any and all relationships where conflict can and does arise, relationships between spouses, bosses and employees, friends and acquaintances and so forth.
The real irony about all this is that in fact we have all been in “the other fellow’s shoes” at one time or other. The only problem is that we are so caught up in ourselves, our own problems and grievances, that we just can’t be bothered to turn the tables on ourselves, so to speak, even if that can prevent a quarrel or even a violent conflict.
Nothing happens by chance or without a reason. Our problem is we are too selfish and ignorant even to bother to try to see the other guy’s point of view, to consider his or her problem – we are too obsessed with our own point of view, our own complaint, our self. But actually, none of us can be happy or even survive in the long run unless we begin to think about other people’s problems. We all depend too much on other people ever to be able to forget about them and their problems and just be happy by ourselves.