I went for a walk today in Whatcom Falls Park, a beautiful piece of green heaven here in the Pacific Northwest. It was one of those perfect late summer days of sun, a slight breeze, and temps in low 70's. The park has some old, majestic trees and I went to photograph them to make some more calendars. It was quiet with just the sound of leaves, wind, and the many hidden things that scurry around just below our clear level of hearing.
It was such a calm and peaceful environment to be in when in so many other places the world is in a crazy turmoil of mean-spirited, warmongering hatred that never seems to end. I wanted to bottle the peace and pass it around. I wanted to say "Here! Inhale this and go be nice to each other." I wanted to spread it all around and let people know what it felt like so they would stop being so mean and so cruel.
But peace, like love, like friendship, like anything requiring a relationship between self and the outside world, depends on more than one person. I can want peace and most of the time I'm lucky to be able to find it in some form or other within a few minutes of the desire making itself known. Others who are trapped in abusive relationships, high stress situations, and war zones can't have it no matter how strong the desire. But all of us can drop a few seeds here and there that might turn into peace. Here are a few suggestions to help them grow:
1. I put this one first because it is the most important: LEARN TO THINK FOR YOURSELF. Those who let others do their thinking for them find themselves trapped in situations they never thought would turn into a trap. If you learn to question what others throw at you as absolute truth than you are less likely to get suckered into something you don't want. This applies equally to love, religion, and war. We all have the "I can be fooled if I want to gene" and it's time to knock that little creep back into the shithole where he/she/it belongs.
Those who don't question and who feel insecure about themselves can be tricked into supporting a war based on lies. They can be tricked into believing there's such a thing as compassionate conservatism. They can be tricked into believing that wrapping oneself in the flag and screaming loudly for someone's blood is Patriotism, and not ignorant and stupid bloodlust based on bigotry. Timeline that led to War
2. The second most important thing is to BE KIND. We've become a mean culture. All you have to do is look at the movies we watch, the books we read, the politicians we elect and you will see how empty our spirits have become. I often find myself shouting to the wind Kurt Vonnegut's immortal words: "There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- "God damn it, you've got to be kind."
Commit a random act of kindness today. It doesn't require very much to think of something. You can drop a bag of groceries off at the food bank. You can mow an elderly neighbor's lawn. You can spend time with people in a nursing home. You can bake cookies for someone who is sad. You can cook dinner for someone who is tired. You can save a dog or cat from your local shelter. You can feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and shelter the homeless. You can say thank you to strangers on the other end of the phone who helped you. You can let someone cut in front of you in traffic, in line at the supermarket. You can smile at a lonely person. You can hug the unhuggable. You can give the smallest gift and have it grow into the largest gesture of kindness, caring and compassion.
3. BE YOURSELF! Most of the problems in the world are caused by those who can't accept who they are because it doesn't fit the advertising propaganda we're assaulted with on a daily basis. Those who are different, outside the norm, geeks, nerds, shy, weird, untameable, and just too damn smart for this planet are the ones who have the biggest hearts. But only you can spread the word, so get out there and quit apologizing for being real in a world that has been totally screwed up by fake, cruel and insincere people.