Friday, October 12, 2007

WILL THERE EVER BE "WORLD PEACE"?

Finding Lessons in The Lord of the Flies

Christopher Nyerges

[Nyerges is the editor of Wilderness Way magazine, and author of "How to Survive Anywhere," and other books. For more information about classes and books, go to www.ChristopherNyerges.com or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041]

Several of us were sitting around a table at Swork in Eagle Rock, drinking coffee, and discussing the problems of today’s world. We were discussing the challenges that parents have with out-of-control children, the Iraq war, terrorism, and other issues.

We began our discussion by analyzing two somewhat misleading questions often asked by Sunday morning pundits: One, why does God allow all the trouble and evil in the world? And Two, will we ever experience a world in harmony, in peace?

The first question is easy to deal with. God has nothing to do with the trouble in the world.
Period. Why do we blame God (or Universal Consciousness, or whatever we call God) for the results of our own ignorance and hypocrisy and preferences? We are agents of free will, are we not? We are the architects of our future, though most of us create our future in a willy-nilly, accidental way, not realizing that every inner secret choice and desire, and every word spoken, and every action, is creating destiny and the "future." But we choose to pretend that this is not so, and when we experience the worst nightmares of our own making, we blame God. As Fred Renich wrote, "We must become increasingly aware of our ever present tendency to use the mercy of a loving God, and his readiness to forgive, as an excuse for careless living."

Question Two is a little harder. Will there ever be peace on earth? Not just cessation of hostilities, but actual harmony among nations and people, and mutual respect that creates an environment of growth (inner and outer), real prosperity, and upliftment.

To answer this question, we have to ask ourselves, What is the obstacle to this harmony? Perhaps the best way to get a handle on this question is to look at all the ways in our own personal lives where disharmony exists. In our relationships, among our work peers, among our family members, among neighbors, among the differing members of our community.

All too often, we find that our problems are caused because we choose to think limbically, we make choices subjectively, based on who we like, and preferences to my family, my people, my religion. We have not been taught or trained to focus upon universal principles or objective reality. If we make decisions in familial or group disputes simply by choosing my side, my group, my religion, rather than upon what is objectively right, then we foster disharmony.

It is nearly always wrong to have a blind adherence to defending "my group." I strongly recommend you read and study Eric Hoffer’s classic book "True Believer."

And this is where the way we train our children to think comes in. If we have been trained to "take sides," and "defend my family" and to filter all our judgements through subjective ideas, we become inept as community and national leaders. If we rise to national leadership with all our preconceptions about other people, we become part of the problem. We become Democrats or Republicans, believing our side is right and the other is wrong. We become Sunni or Shia, knowing we are right and the other is wrong. We think as black or white or brown or red, and we believe that the others are wrong. We think as Catholic or Protestant and consider the other beliefs wrong. Etc.

It is our very belief that keeps us in our limbic brain, thinking primitively, mentally residing in a Dark Age.

It is not as if "answers" are not abundant. But we filter the answers through our subjective minds, and the typical human response is to kill off, imprison, marginalize, or ridicule to obscurity all the world’s great answer-givers.

Perhaps the greatest "answer" to the many problems of human existence is the command to Love your neighbor as yourself. Or, the command to do unto others as you’d have them do to you.

Will there ever be harmony on earth? Must the human condition continue to worsen? Perhaps it is time to think about saving and improving our self, and being less concerned about "saving the world."

As his sipped the last of his coffee, and looked out the window at the cars racing by on Eagle Rock Blvd., one member of our group, Gary, said that each and every one of us is like the boys stranded on the island in Lord of the Flies. In each moment of our daily life, we make choices. We can choose to be uplifted and civilized, or we can choose animalistic anarchistic choices. Each choice, and the consequences of those choices, creates the reality we live in. And in that sense, we are each the architects of our future. Once we find harmony within, there will be hope that there can be harmony in the world.

5 comments:

Valeria said...

Once again, great article! I personally love to talk about religion because I believe it is somewhat of a problem in that it creates separation and bias in people. But I agree with everything you said, especially that in order to create peace in the world, we must begin with ourselves and make positive and unbiased decisions, everyday. I began doing this unknowingly since childhood actually, but consciously, for a while & it has let me see people, even not so nice people, in a more positive way because even they respond to kindness most of the time. I know that acts of kindness, even giving a simple happy smile to people out on the town, creates true harmony that has the potential to spread. I love giving and receiving smiles!

Until next time,

Val

haloflightleader said...

"One, why does God allow all the trouble and evil in the world?"
"God has nothing to do with the trouble in the world. Period. Why do we blame God (or Universal Consciousness, or whatever we call God) for the results of our own ignorance and hypocrisy and preferences?"

The "Problem of evil" is a fundamental topic in Philosophy. Epicurus is credited for articulating this first. Here was his argument:

Premises:
1. God Exists.
2. God is omnipotent and omniscient.
3. God is all good.
4. Whatever God wills, happens.

Postulates:
If God is all good and powerful and the creator of everything:
1. Why did he create beings that are evil?
2. If he is all powerful and good, then wouldn't he remove the evil?

Realities:
1. Evil exists.
2. Sadness and pain exist.

If God is all powerful, but does not want to remove evil, then it makes Him evil.
If God wants to remove evil, but he cannot, then he is not all powerful.
If whatever God wills happens, but clearly there is sorrow, pain, misery, then he must not be willing this happiness and goodness on Earth and its animals.

Conclusion:
1. An all good and powerful God does not exist.

Gotfried Leibniz argued that there are an infinite combinations of the Universe, but of all the possibilities, this is the best one -- because this one exists.

Another philosophical question is if God is all powerful, can He create a mountain so big that even he cannot move it? If yes, then He's not all powerful, if no, then He's not all powerful.

"will we ever experience a world in harmony, in peace?"
Ooh, tough question. I choose to believe yes. The cup is half full.

If God knows everything in the past, present, and future, he already knows what's going to happen. Something is already in the books as far as what's going to happen next. Our Free Will is an illusion since we cannot see the future.

"And this is where the way we train our children to think comes in. If we have been trained to "take sides," and "defend my family" and to filter all our judgements through subjective ideas, we become inept as community and national leaders. If we rise to national leadership with all our preconceptions about other people, we become part of the problem. We become Democrats or Republicans, believing our side is right and the other is wrong. We become Sunni or Shia, knowing we are right and the other is wrong. We think as black or white or brown or red, and we believe that the others are wrong. We think as Catholic or Protestant and consider the other beliefs wrong. Etc."
"It is our very belief that keeps us in our limbic brain, thinking primitively, mentally residing in a Dark Age."

I think everyone who has at least graduated high school has an idea of what and how logic is used. Many get really good at it when they get into a car accident. All of a sudden they are philosophers who can logically explain why it is the other's fault. At that age, they are talking at least pre-Algebra and AP Calculus at best. I think most of the people who will read this has some college in their experience. Philosophy, logic, and mathematics are prerequisites to many degrees. So were we trained to think logically in our lives, I'd say, yes. The problem is people choose to use or abandon the training when it suits them. And that is in and of itself a practice in logic - a priori. Hahaha!

"But we filter the answers through our subjective minds, and the typical human response is to kill off, imprison, marginalize, or ridicule to obscurity all the world’s great answer-givers."

Are there any examples of this in recent times?

Geoff said...

I find it necessary not to just blindly agree with anything posted. Just because writing is published does not give it or the author any validity. The knowledge must be taken from the source and applied to reality through observation and research to see whether it's worth a damn.

As someone who has actually read True Believer, as dry a read as it was, one may merely research through old periodicals and recent history to view the authors comments and theories as having application in modern life. As with many people who devote their lives to the study of conflict, particularly martial artists, such as Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the Japanese art of Aikido; the conclusions reached by such people are that the origin of conflict arises within the self, and harmony within the self will lead to harmony with the universe. Whether you believe in an omnipotent God or not is irrelevant. Silly philosophical wordplay "proving or disproving" the existance of an omnipotent God is likewise irrelevant, with the one exception that people have nothing to blame but there own actions. Perhaps humans would benefit by examining their own lives in a buddhist context that "all suffering arises from desire". In REALLY EXAMINING this, one can find the truth in that statement, and begin to effect change accordingly. Additionally, humans have an intrinsic need to harmonize with their own spirituality, something that recognized with far more significance before agricultural civilizations conquered the world and its many varied cultures. If we all became what the Lakota call "ickcheywhachasha"( sp?), or a "common man" or "humble spiritual seeker", with that as our highest priority, I believe we really would see change in the world towards harmony.

After all that verbal diahorrea, change in the world begins with change in oneself. Have a great day, Chris!

Christopher Nyerges said...

Geoff, you said it well. You expressed my point exactly, let's not "blame God" for our own weaknesses and our own conflicts within that result in our evil deeds. I believe that the only revolution worth fighting is personal revolution. Change yourself and you change the world. Christopher

haloflightleader said...

Hi Geoff,

Interesting that you mention O-Sensei. I've read almost every book there is about him, and am an Aikidoka myself.

I agree that part of attaining world peace is by seeking peace within, but although that is the start, there are other ingredients.

If we look in recent history about Myanmar, and how even the Budhist monks became involved in the riots. These monks live and advocate a life of little desire other than simply to exist, yet, as without desire as they were, they were compelled to get involved.

Attaining inner-peace/self-revolution is one thing, but it is another to attain it in a world where no one else strives for it.

Jesus Christ said to love your enemy, to turn the other cheek when someone strikes you. But, is that really what we want to do? What is inner-peace? Even Ueshiba realized the need for defense.

Around us whether Iran is truly weaponizing uranium if such a threat existed, is it not our right to quell the proliferation of such a weapon especially in an unstable part of the world?

My point is I agree, God shouldn't be blamed for the evil that exists in the world, although if He is omnipotent, He is part of that evil, thus implicating evil is an inherrent indictment of God. Next, self-revolution or the quest for inner-peace is a first step to world harmony, but there are other necessary pieces. And further, we need to define what we mean by inner-peace/self-revolution because it could be taken as "turn-the-other-cheek" let others step all over you, or defend yourself at all costs preempting clear and present dangers. And we've all heard this, "no man is an island". Perhaps we should instead spread self-revolution and englightenment along with the amelioration of ourselves?

Very interesting topic.