“Silence is a source of great strength.” Lao Tzu
This month, I am following my dear friends, The World According to Dina, Leaping Tracks and Silkannthreades into silence. For most of us, this is entering unfamiliar territory. We have become accustomed to sound, whether it be the soothing lilt of music, the white noise of traffic, urgent text message notifications, or the inevitable clamour of an alarm clock. At the same time, our affinity with silence has lessened to the point that we are uneasy in what seems to be a “void.” Consider how we rush to fill a conversation when there is a lapse into silence.
Silence is a complete absence of sound, something which very few of us will ever experience. City dwellers will always have the company of noise. Nature offers the echoes of ocean waves crashing along a shoreline, wind rattling the trees, rain pelting the ground, voices of animals and the songs of birds. And the universe – even interstellar space is filled with noise.
I am discovering that silence can be reached when we allow the noise to drift away, when we relinquish the message conveyed by the incoming signal. In so doing, we open ourselves to new possibilities and outcomes.
In the end, silence is a personal journey, an inner conversation, an open invitation to explore and celebrate.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” Chaim Potok
Finding Silence within a City Garden from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.
Peace allows us to pursue our purpose in life – to discover and explore what drives our creative and intellectual passions. It is the one gift that we can give ourselves, irrespective of external circumstances.
Peace is the absence of anger:
“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Peace is the absence of envy:
“Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.”
Peace is an open heart and a willingness to be a positive influence for good:
“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Virginia Woolf once said: “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” Peace is found in action!
The indomitable Eleanor Roosevelt declared: “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Even so, it is difficult at times to know how to participate. How do we “work at it?”
Perhaps the “work” is sharing kindness and love. A gentle word said in passing, a smile exchanged with a co-worker, a hug given when sorrow has visited a friend. St. Francis of Assisi prayed: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”
“They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Peace thrives on understanding and dies on ignorance. The Dalai Lama is quite clear on this point: “Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.” Helen Keller declared: “I do not want the peace which passeth understanding; I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” Ralph Waldo Emerson penned: “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.”
Understanding is not as easy as it seems especially when we live in a complex, diverse and fast paced world where value systems are being continually challenged. But “lasting peace” is worth the effort.
- Apartheid – the repugnant policy or system of segregation or discrimination based on racial standards
- Nelson Mandela (Madiba – his Xhosa clan name) – the anti-apartheid activist, the leader and co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC)
Nelson Mandela was charismatic, handsome, a brilliant communicator, and a serious activist. He was at his peak when he was handed a prison sentence – intellectual courage fused with physical strength, a dynamic and deadly combination. Elegantly dressed in the most expensive suits, he was the quintessential revolutionary ready to accept any risk in pursuit of his dream: “an Africa which is in peace with itself.” Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison. He never lost courage. Instead, he found a way to achieve peace.
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
Nelson Mandela (Madiba)
Thomas Paine lived up to his name – at least, that is what many thought in the late 1700’s. He was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. It seems our century does not have the monopoly on bold individuals who are determined to support human rights initiatives. Born in Thetford, England, Thomas Paine immigrated, with the help of Benjamin Franklin, to the British American colonies in 1774.
Thomas Paine looked toward the future when he penned the pamphlet, Common Sense, which would inspire the American patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. Even in our era of immediate communication, the dissemination of the message is impressive. In three months, 100,000 (or 500,000 copies, if you included the pirated editions), were circulated throughout the American British Colonies. Thomas Paine put forward ideas on human rights that stirred a nation. His reasons for writing can be summed up in one sentence.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”