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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 72 - 12/24/2001
Is 'Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men' Possible?
Is a workable 'peace on earth' just wishful or spiritual thinking or is it really possible? What would it take to achieve such a goal? Is it even a 'good' thing to attempt to bring about? How are your personal levels of tolerance tested in this world and how well do you think that you respond when someone demonstrates an attitude of intolerance towards you? Where do you draw the line and finally say, "No more!" What do you think about the current and future state of the laws that define 'legal' tolerance? Will they hold up over the years? Do you think that we are making progress as Pagans and as human towards a universal set of human rights guidelines? Should we even go there at all? What role does religion or spirituality- for better or for worse- play in the arena of religious and civil rights and/or the quest for peace?
| Reponses: There are 28 responses posted to this question.
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| This Topic Rang Home True For Me Last Week. I Am The... ||Dec 18th. at 1:19:26 pm EST|
|Cedar Mantis (Gladstone, Oregon US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
This topic rang home true for me last week. I am the Oregon State director for WARD so my ears and eyes naturally perk up when issues arise.
Case in point. Every day I must drive past a Christian church. You know the ones. Big sign outside usually with some distasteful comment urging us "misguided" souls to find Christ. I usually turn the other cheek in an admirable Pagan way, but this time, I had to say something.
The message was"Christmas or Mythmas? Only one offers real hope". OK, time to send a friendly email! So I sent one correcting the pastor, giving historal tidbits regarding the true nature of Christmas. I concluded by stating I hoped that we could learn tolerance for other ways. I said I encouraged him to teach his followers their path, but not to berate others' ideas in the process.
He was not too happy with my comments and sent a few of his own. He tried to imply I was showing intolerance by sending my email. I must say, this did make me think.
Here's what I concluded. If he had simply put a sign saying something like "Christ is cool. You ought to check us out", that would have been one thing. But to put a slant on other beliefs while hiding behind a veil of free speech leaves you open to equal opposition.
Now I'm not going to go into the injustice of it all but what would happen if I put a bright shining pentagram outside my home for all to see? I have the right and it doesn't berate anybody. It simply expresses my personal faith. Now consider this. What if I put a nice big sign saying "Jesus sucks"? Hmmm, do you think I'd get angry comments on that?
I guess what it boils down to is that there are shades of grey to our freedoms. To have tolerance shown on us we need to be ready to display the same tolerance on them. We can co exist with our oppressors but sometimes we need to clash our freedoms together.
I had to say something because I vowed to when I accepted my job with WARD and signed Tempest Smith's decree. Where to draw that line is hard to say though. My spirit guide would no doubt suggest "follow your heart".
| I Think It's Easy To Become Cynical About This Question. After All... ||Dec 18th. at 2:31:48 pm EST|
|John (New Naumkeag, Ohio US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
I think it's easy to become cynical about this question. After all, people have always known war and other forms of violence (physical and nonphysical).
On the other hand, I think it is easy to become naive or foolish in optimism that progress in technology and even in civilization is a guarantee of peace. The twentieth century especially belies that notion.
The answer to me is (of course, as a Pagan and as a Witch) the Balance. Peace and Violence are both part of the Balance. So, if we manage not to blow ourselves up, nor kill ourselves off with genetic engineering nor bake ourselves bye-bye with global warming nor who knows what other forms of violence to ourselves and our planet, I think we'll see more physical peace -- for all sorts of practical as well as altruistic reasons. But I don't think violence (physical or otherwise) will never completely go away - because it's part of us.
Now as for spiritual peace: that is always available. It occurs one human heart, one human soul at a time; it occurs through receiving, living, giving and realizing Truth (usually through learning how to love others).
And, as Pagans of the West, we can echo and work for tolerance here in the sense of what the Pagans of the East (Hindus, in the Rig Veda 1.164.46) said so long ago: "For Truth is One, and the sages call It by different Names." In fact, we are doing so already.
| Well, Last I Checked, Universal Peace And Goodwill Don't Violate The Laws... ||Dec 18th. at 5:10:35 pm EST|
|Aedh Rua UiMhorrighu (New Richmond, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Well, last I checked, universal peace and goodwill don't violate the laws of physics, so I suppose they are indeed technically possible. But, we must make a distinction here between technical possibility and any degree of likelihood. Are "peace on Earth and goodwill toward men" possible? Sure. Is there any reason to see them coming about any time soon or late? Not likely.
Universal peace, or even just avoidance of atrocity, would require all human beings, and all human factions to adopt the same standards of tolerance and mutual respect. Given the sheer number of factions, and the percentage which follow one or another type of intolerant monotheism or integral nationalism, I doubt that this is even remotely achievable.
Another way to guarantee universal peace would be a very well-armed, tolerant, and disinterested world state simply imposing world peace. This is likely to be a cure worse than the disease. Such a state would face an almost impossible task in keeping from being corrupted in one way or another, and a constant guerilla war against most of the human race.
At the present time we are making some progress toward the establishment of certain limits on conflict, though the multiplication of groups hostile to this consensus does not bode well for its enduring. The United States and the UN have tried to keep radical factions from aquiring nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. So far, this has been successful. Whether it will continue to be is unlikely.
Religion plays a huge role in all of this. The worst offenders in this arena throughout history have either been monotheistic religions or secular ideologies heavily influenced by monotheistic religions. The growth of Paganism is a very good thing, in part because Pagans are generally much more inherantly diverse and tolerant than are most Christians, Moslems, or other monotheists. Should the United States ever become a predominantly Pagan country, it will probably make for a greater degree of tolerance and mutual acceptance in American society.
If this should ever happen, it would also likely mean better relations between the United States and many Asian countries, especially India, China, and Japan. On the other hand, it would mean greater conflict between the United States and the countries of the Middle East, and probably Africa, as well, these being predominantly inhabited by Moslems or conservative Christians.
Before the United States ever becomes a Pagan country, it will go through, is going through, a period of greater intolerance, and erosion of both civil liberties and civility. Unfortunately, the attack on the WTC has galvanized the most extreme and intolerant factions in American society in an effort to sieze absolute power. And, so far, there is little to stop them. At the very least, the legal protections of freedom and tolerance are going to be decimated over the next few years. Whether this results in the rise of an "American Christian Taliban" has yet to be decided.
In the end, if we wish to survive, Pagans are going to have to become a hell of a lot LESS tolerant than we are. We are going to have to react to any attacks on our community with overwhelming legal force, while the laws which protect us still exist. As those laws erode, we will need to use other methods. We are not numerous enough to use armed methods or terrorism, so we will have to be fiendishly clever in coming up with ways to make anyone who steps on us miserable.
If things here get bad enough (and wouldn't you say that the fundie president organizing secret military tribunals is definitely getting there?) then we will need to relocate either within or outside the United States. A while ago, I suggested that we might need to concentrate ourselves in a single, out of the way state with lots of resources, and few mundane residents. Alaska was the obvious choice. Well, things seemed not to be going that way, so I dropped the idea. Now, though, the Alaska Plan is looking better and better.
| As Long As People Keep Trying To Make Everyone Else See And... ||Dec 18th. at 11:21:33 pm EST|
|Jennifer Jonas (Winnipeg, Manitoba CA) ||Age: 21 - Email |
As long as people keep trying to make everyone else see and follow their point of view, no, there won't be peace on earth. As long as there are stupid toys that children crave and over commercialized "specials" at fast food chains, there will never be good will toward men (and women). As soon as people start realizing that everyone has an opinion, and, while we may not respect it or follow it, it's their opinion, maybe there can be some sort of...well, not quite peace, but, workability (not sure it's a word, but, it works!) There will probably not be true peace on earth as long as everyone has their own strong opinions about things....but, maybe, just maybe, one day we'll learn to live together in some sort of agreement that we all have opinions....who knows. I do know that without the help of other people, there's no way that we can form our own opinions. I mean, if there weren't people like Jerry Falwell, I wouldn't feel so strongly that stupid people should have to take a test before they're let out into the wild (just kidding....you're all safe from my test)
Still, though, it's not like I enjoy being told that I'm wrong for my beliefs, but, I just hope that they'll learn from my example, that, although I don't shove in their face that I think their opinions are completely inane. I just smile, nod, and walk away.....or, just tell them that I don't agree. That's all I can do to do my part in the "peace on earth and good will toward men" idea....until then, it's just a dream.
| Okay, Everyone. I Have A Few Questions. (i Know, I've Been Thinking... ||Dec 19th. at 9:39:21 am EST|
|Amaranth (Cape Canaveral, Florida US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Okay, everyone. I have a few questions. (I know, I've been THINKING again, and I really need to stop that!) I am trying to incorporate balance and tolerance into my philosophy and practice of daily life. I have spoken to a few people who have attained - though not permanently - a state of "oneness" called different things by different religions. In that state, they felt guided at all times and in all ways by their own inner/outer (depending on the religion) divinity. They had guidance in recognizing the "line in the sand" and the necessary actions to defend it, and acknowledged others' forays past that line as inadvertent and/or "not personal." They acted truly in peace, and I was in awe. In theory, are we not all capable of this state? If we are, isn't world peace a natural extension of that individual state (albeit a lo-o-o-ong extension)?
The next question is this. Balance is an overall equality of the forces of "dark" and "light", to grab hold of a paradigm recently used on this page. But "dark" and "light" each have a positive, constructive application and a negative, destructive one. Even that choice of terminology is confusing, because there are times when construction can be positive OR negative, and destruction can be either as well. Doesn't Balance then refer (perhaps) to making the choice which is more appropriate (and less harmful) to the beings involved? And simply trusting that others are doing their best to do the same?
Next: I read here several beautifully expressed pieces in the past two weeks about the Zen practice of "disconnecting" from the karmic wheel (please forgive me if that is a poor term), of experiencing without labelling or reacting as a means to achieve balance. In my understanding, it is from experiencing our lives and our reactions that we learn our "life lessons" and work out some of the karmic obligations from our past lives. In disconnecting from these experiences, do we negatively impact our spiritual development? Or does reaction and balancing occur in spite of us somehow? Please forgive my ignorance - if this feels too off-topic for you, I would welcome an off-line response.
I bring up these things because as so many writers on this page have pointed out, world peace is not possible without the personal peace of the citizens of the world - at least not without a horrible Orwellian overtone. So in my mind, personal peace is definitely relevant to a discussion of world peace.
Finally, there's one thing I just can't keep quiet about, and that's the relevance of history to a discussion of this nature. History is important, and it has been too much neglected in the past fifty years. History does tell us that we haven't been able to accomplish peace. However, until Edison, history also told us that the indoor electric lighting was impossible. Until recently, cloning was impossible. World peace will also remain impossible UNTIL IT EXISTS. History teaches us our past, but not our potential, so it is extremely important not to let what we have done or not done limit what we try to accomplish. Keep hoping, keep loving, and maybe enough of us will create pleasant microcosms to have a positive effect on the macrocosm. As within, so without.
| Of Course Peace On Earth And Good Will Towards Men Is Possible... ||Dec 19th. at 11:52:56 am EST|
|Raven Prince (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 20 |
of course peace on earth and good will towards men is possible. i for one have refused to sit back and act as if i don't have control over my own feelings and behavior. i could blame my moments of personal weakness on almost anything and not really do anything about them, but i have developed an honest image of myself with a strong inner critic to keep me in check, and i don't allow myself to think' well i'm only human'. i used to be a person i was not very proud of, but finally i just told myself that i was going to simply be a better person always. i'm not perfect, but i no longer get into arguments, i no longer hang around with thugs, i no longer get turned into a ball of stress by driving or by the artificial tensions imposed by other people, i always eat well, i rarely drink, i no longer smoke, i don't do drugs, i'm going through college and starting my new career and nothing much gets me upset anymore. i have even been able to tolerate and forgive those who have caused me difficulties and harm, without returning their negativity. i have even discovered that by simply accepting the total level of control i have over myself i never have to consciously shield against bad energy because it just natural bounces off of me. and best of all is i have escaped the pendulum swing of my mental, emotional, and spiritual states by rising to a higher plane of stability.
i'm not bragging and saying all people should model themselves after me, that i am a guru or prophet or god or philosopher, that i'm perfect or any other high and arrogant thing like that. i'm saying that like most people i never used to believe i could find peace with myself, and though i don't claim i will ever achieve total inner peace i have found the peace to strive to keep myself on a higher level of being at all times, to shrug off the anchors of the superficial world that try to ground us in material reality and lower nature. this is how peace is achieved. everyone must reflect, consider, question, and ultimately we must be prepared time and time again to tear down our entire basis of belief and ideology and rebuild from scratch, keeping the best from the old and adding the best of the new. peace can never be achieved if people act without contemplating, or ground themselves in lower being without balancing their lower being with their higher being, or if they do not accept their absolute total control over themselves, and in particular there can never be peace if we as a species refuse to maintain our childlike innocence and be able to see the world without a million trillion ingrained perceptions because the fact that can be proven by history is that nearly every single belief we may hold no matter unquestionable it may seem is nonetheless wrong, so we should stick with things we know can't be wrong, like be good to the planet, love thy neighbors, follow the path of goodness, etc...
peace is possible, because it is proven even by medical science that our aggressions and predjudices are more learned than inherited. but we must find peace one person at a time.
| Unfortunately, 'peace On Earth' Will Not Be Possible Until We (including All... ||Dec 19th. at 5:17:01 pm EST|
|MoonSong (Montreal, Quebec CA) ||Age: 23 - Email |
Unfortunately, 'peace on earth' will not be possible until we (including all the people in this plane of existance) stop fearing the unknown. Not knowing and not understanding each other's religions/cultures/customs is what has been the basis for many conflicts on so many levels in the past, and will be the basis for many more to come. Educating people would be all it should take to acheve this goal, however we all know how thick-skulled some people are, especially if they have heard the same misconceptions all their lives and had them drilled into their minds, so educating people may prove to be difficult. Personal levels of tolerance are actually usually tested when someone of a certain culture/religion/nationality does something extremely shocking (i.e. the attacks on the WTC), which causes for people to put all people of the same culture/religion/nationality under the same category of so-called bad people, and this should not be the case. I usually ignore people when they are being intolerant towards myself, because it is not my problem, it's their own... That would be all I would have to say on the subject for right now, but I think that covers all I can really say on this. Brightest Blessings.
| This Is Where I "draw The Line.." An Open Letter To Ruby... ||Dec 19th. at 9:22:07 pm EST|
|little red man with pitchfork (yourtown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 86 - Email |
This is where I "draw the line.."
AN OPEN LETTER TO RUBY AND JOE (CATATONICS)
Since You seem to have nothing better to do than monitor this website, monitor this--It's your kind of feeble-minded, fanatic, fundamentalism that We've been fighting in Afghanistan. Do bin Laden and Taliban ring a bell? Because You're more like them than your weak little minds know. Your obvious psychotic ramblings are pathetic. This is the kindest thing I can say to You - SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IMMEDIATELY. Oh and, one other little bit of friendly advice: "for anybody will wrench your beautiful neck with hatred for all eternity..."? Sounds like a not-so-cleverly veiled threat to me. Over the Internet, no less. Not too bright at all. Some might even call it inciting a hate crime. I bet You also send this kind of terroristic filth to women's clinics as well. Just like Waagner did. But he was caught too wasn't he losers? Let's just say if any harm should come to Wren's neck (which You have a creepy obsession with) or any other part of her, I and thousands of others will know where the authorities should look first.
| That Depends On Your Definition Of Peace. If You Mean No War... ||Dec 19th. at 10:01:11 pm EST|
|Drekfletch (Wolfeboro, New Hampshire US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
That depends on your definition of peace. If you mean no war, then it is possible. But like all change, it will cost us. It will cost us the hardship of accepting absolute knowledge. I have a book, _The Light of Other Days_ by Arthur C. Clarke, that tells of how a technology is developed that can reach anywhere back into time (including the present) anywhere in space. As this technology spreads, it virtually eliminates all possibility of crime, unpunished violence, holding secrets, telling lies. And as this unadultered truth pounds at mankind, the face of society changes.
But, if you mean where all are content, then it is a definite NO. We, as a race, have discontent in our genes. It gives us the incentive to grow, to evolve. To resonate with Amaranth's idea, we need something to strive for. I found an ad in the paper once that said: "If you want something done...dangle the undoable in front of the world. Then, consider it done." It continues on telling many things done that were "impossible." If anyone wants to read it, I still have a copy I can e-mail.
As for me personaly, I dread the time when we get to the level of "eternal" peace. I am afraid of what we will evolve to next.
| No. As Long As Humans Are Not All Brainwashed, We Will Always... ||Dec 19th. at 10:06:08 pm EST|
|9;2;2 (Derby, Kansas US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
No. As long as humans are not all brainwashed, we will always find something to fight about. There can be no order without chaos, they are in a fluctuating and constant balance and imbalance with each other.
Order without chaos is absurd. It is a fantasy where people only see the beauty of order, and not the ugly side. The ugly side of order is oppression. If you have no idea why I think order can be bad, read up on Benito Mussolini, Ferdinand Marcos, Augusto Pinochet, Jean Bedel Bokassa, Nicolae Ceausescu, Mao Zedong, and all of those fun people. If I recall correctly, Mussolini and Hitler were sort of butt-buddies in the political way, with Mussolini establishing himself as a fascist dictator of Italy after collapsing all political enemies around him. Order is corrupting, but so is chaos.
Hmm... some people on the chaotic side...
Osama bin Laden (of course), Earth Liberation, and most extremist animal-rights activists who fire-bomb hunting ranges.
Peace is governed by order. Peace does not last forever, it will eventually be followed by adversity. Think about the Earth herself: she may seem still, but she is in constant movement. During peace, there is little growth. Peace is more of a nap-time for humanity, and chaos is when we wake up.
So, no, there will never be peace on Earth until every last life-form dies and Earth becomes a static mudball. There are always little pockets of peace, but not in totality.
A quote to keep in mind.
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely."
| It Is Very Hard If Not Out Right Impossible To Imagine Peace... ||Dec 21st. at 12:48:29 am EST|
|Brianna (La Mesa, California US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
It is very hard if not out right impossible to imagine peace on earth. I think that over the years we sa people are making more and more progress with explaining what paganism is and isnt while at the same time stepping out and making ourselves heard.
The Reason I say that peace on earth is an almost impossiblty is because every single person has a differant view of what is peaceful and what is not. I hope that I am wrong and that in time silly little differances like race and religon will be overlooked. However look at things that are happening now in today's world. Some pagans are being taunted for celibrating and worshipping a differant path than the majority while in other places it is agenst the law to practice a differant faith from the majority.
I hope to the Goddess that I am wrong and that some day in the future our children will be able overlook the small differances and be friends and kin to each other while being tolerant of their friend and kins religon and personal beliefs.
| Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Log On To The... ||Dec 21st. at 9:17:38 am EST|
|Amaranth (Cape Canaveral, Florida US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Just when you thought it was safe to log on to the Perspectives Page, I have to go and think again! Sorry, guys -- I usually try to get it together a little more than this, but this is just a fascinating topic for me.
The good news is that I'm relaying my husband's thoughts here, with his permission. He is very interested in magickal theory, and seems to have an innate understanding of many things I struggle to understand. His viewpoint is that our opinions and expectations mold the world we see around us: our perceptions create the universe we live in. Therefore, if you imagine and expect a world where peace is possible, it becomes more possible, and that part of the world closest to you actually reflects your expectation; if you imagine a bleak and hostile environment, your world actually becomes more bleak and hostile.
This is actually borne out by recent experiments in physics where observers were asked to predict the behavior of subatomic particles, and then told to check their expectations by observation. The observers saw a better-than-chance occurrence of whatever they expected, no matter how much "expectations" varied from observer to observer. (I'll try to find the academic cite if anyone requests it.)
Looked at from this vantage point, our every thought is a magickal act, in that it alters the actual fabric of universal events around us. If we allow the acts of ben Ladin and small-minded people like those who tortured JourneyWalker's friend and Joe and Ruby (Catholic) (I didn't have the heart to tell the good Catholic people I know about this) to change our perception of humanity and the world for the worse, we are lending their thoughts power, granting them magickal strength they would not otherwise have had. If instead we view them through a set of beliefs based on our magickal intent, we are not only changing the world for the better, but even, through tolerance and understanding, changing those we view for the better (it's a lot easier to place someone who's done a bad thing for an understandable reason into a peaceful mindset than it is a "bad" person). That doesn't mean not speaking out or fighting back, it means waiting to do so until we can act out of the purest motivations and with balanced goals.
I always assume that someone behaving badly is missing something essential to their survival or development. This makes it a lot easier to set up a dialog where one or both of us can learn something. It changes harm into a positive bond, and I know of no one who has enough of those.
My husband refuses to listen to anything bin Laden has to say, because he feels listening to him (bin L) gives him credibility he should not have at this point. As far as I'm concerned, bin Laden is out there somewhere, but no matter what he as one individual masterminds, the nature of humanity as a whole is still good and still capable of greater things than we have accomplished in the past - maybe even world peace, who knows? (I'll settle for no children fighting at the dinner table tonight, because that's my little world. :) )
Blessed Be, again!
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