Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Role Of Religion & Inner Wholeness As We Seek Global Peace

Quaker pastor and author Philip Gulley.
"I have a friend who believes a personal relationship with Jesus is essential for peace. He cites as proof the violence and upheaval in nations that aren't predominantly Christian. Though predominantly Christian nations aren't exempt from violence, he believes that is an aberration, not indicative of a general trend. I believe my friend, despite his many virtues, is unaware of the tendency of Christians to be just as violent as our fellow religionists.
I don't say this to denigrate Christianity or any other faith. Religion, when grounded in an ethos of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, can be a powerful tool in the struggle for peace. It matters little whether that religion is Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism. What matters is the believer's commitment to the highest ideals of his or her religion. But our tendency to believe our own religion or nation is uniquely qualified to attain a virtuous goal is part and parcel of our dilemma - we believe the best about ourselves and suspect the worst about others. This inward lack of trust breeds outward suspicion, generates ill will, and makes peace all the more unlikely. 
Violence is a human problem with a human solution. I believe in a Divine Presence, but I see little evidence that God miraculously intervenes to bring peace. While some who work for peace are motivated by religious principles, even those who are not religious have a role to play. The work of reconciliation begins when we believe in the inward capacity of people of all religions (and people of no religion), nations, and cultures to contribute to that end.
Inward wholeness is the foundation on which outward peace rests. We live from the inside out. Inward imperfections rise to the surface, just as magma pushes through to the earth's surface. Consequently, the work of peace begins with a sincere consideration of our inner condition and its effect on our world. Does our greed create economic inequality? Do our prejudices make it easier to despise and exclude others? Do our religious beliefs breed distrust? Do we expect moral perfection from others with little awareness of our own ethical frailties? What inward deficiencies of our own push to the surface in our lives, causing harm to others? 
~ Philip Gulley, "Living The Quaker Way: Discover The Hidden Happiness In The Simple Life," 2013. 

No comments: