Some years ago, I went to Iraq to take stock of our relief and rehabilitation work there. We were asked to stay in the Green Zone, the safe zone. There were 12 vehicles and two tankers provided for our security. They said the Red Zone was quite risky and there had been bomb blasts a few days back. But I insisted on going there. They were worried but since I was their guest, they could not refuse.
There, I went to a village that had only Shias because all the Sunnis had been driven away from there. They welcomed me. I sat with them, spoke with them, and told them I wanted to bring a guest that evening, and they agreed. So I brought with me a Sunni Imam who was among those driven away from that village. When they met and spoke to each other, the villagers decided, “We will welcome back the 8,000 families that were driven away from here.”
It is a matter of understanding people’s sensitivities while being sensible, too. This can happen only if we are peaceful. World peace cannot come by high-level policies. World peace grows from right where we are. It is peaceful individuals who can make a peaceful world.
Often, we see that people who talk about inner peace are complacent.
They are resigned from everything including realities and are happy being a recluse. That peace has no value. And a dynamism that has no thought, which is full of agitation and which has brought pain to oneself and others, has no value either. We require a fine combination of inner peace and outer dynamism.
When there is a conflict, there is a breakdown of communication. Second, there is no trust. To bridge this gap, you need a channel of communication, a way to connect with all the sides of the conflict. There are some who are extremely sensitive and lose their temper and then there are those who think they are ‘sensible’ and righteous to such an extent that they do not care about the impact of their actions or inactions. Neither can make good communicators. We need a blend of sensitivity and sensibility. An important characteristic of a peaceful person is how best he can connect with everyone.
Corruption begins where a sense of belongingness ends. You will see that people take bribes only from those they have no belongingness with. Nobody takes a bribe from their loved ones, those they connect with. Another example of connection can be, how you probably behave when you go abroad and you meet someone who says, “I also studied in XYZ College.” What happens to you? You feel a sense of connection. It is this connection that improves communication. Then conflicts simply disappear.
‘The other’ is always a threat. But with multi-religious and multi-cultural, value-based education, the threat can disappear. Ultimately, the thought process changes when perception changes, opening the door for cooperation and peace.
We have many identities in life. First, we are part of one light, one human race. Our subsequent identities are with gender, nation, and religion. There is violence in the world because our priorities have been reversed. For these identities to be in proper order of priority, we need inner peace so that we are sensitive to others’ needs and respond appropriately.
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