When I re-share my oil paintings they take on new meaning depending on the state of the world and our individual perspective at the time of viewing. How has your definition of “peace” and “strength” evolved over the past two years? Your answer may be different if I ask you from month to month, day to day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.
A healthy human condition is fluid. Our emotions are malleable. “Malleable” has two basic definitions (wordnik.com). The first is “capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure”. This is normal and helps us grow. We adapt and respond to hardships, challenges, progress and regression. We are flexible and responsive to changing environments, lifestyle and health status, and political climates. This is the good, productive kind of malleable.
The second definition for “malleable” is “easily controlled or influenced”. This type of human condition endangers the future of mankind. It makes possible the reality of mass psychosis, in which the majority of the world’s population believes things that are false, that have relatively low risk of lasting harm or fatality compared to other risks. They then submit and might even become irrationally, unquestioningly loyal to an extreme solution that creates more hardship, suffering, and death. Oftentimes the lower risk of inaction (allowing a crisis to organically resolve without coercion or tighter control) is the more logical choice, but it requires bravery to ignore the bleating to act when people want swift solutions.
“Peace through Strength” is not a concept exclusive to world governments and military. Modern warfare relies heavily on psychological weapons that are directed not only at armies, but tragically at the civilian population, including children and the elderly. When a populace is controlled or influenced to turn their backs on their own nation, institutions, society, values, neighbors and families, the war has been won by the enemies of the People. For it is the people who determine how much wealth their rulers can siphon from the backs of their labor, and it is the people who either see the profit motive behind their rulers’ mandates or are blind to it. It is the people who submit, comply, and allow to be overtaken. When the people agree to enslavement, the objectives of the (tyrannical) ruling class is reached.
When we are strong, the need for a physical rescue may be unnecessary, thereby achieving a peaceful outcome to a confrontation or a coercive breach of our human rights. Indeed, a crisis may be averted before it even takes root, never escalating to the point where more dramatic measures are required to resolve the situation. Peace through strength is possible, even when it seems that the situation is too far gone. Telling ourselves that it’s “too late” or we “can’t do anything”, is an excuse for an unwillingness to try.
When we are easily controlled or influenced, our spirit and purpose is hijacked. We are distracted and diverted from our true predestined path when entities attempt to change us. We do not deserve this interference in our destiny. But if we stay off course indefinitely, we do so willingly, because no one can take away our free will. Being influenced requires consent at some stage. No matter how difficult it may be to stand firm in one’s own beliefs when broken, standing alone, ridiculed, shamed, and threatened, it is nonetheless possible. It requires strength.
Ordinary moments test us. When we feel uncomfortable in a conversation, are we strong enough to do the right thing? Are we resolutely silent when it is best to let an issue go, and honestly outspoken when it’s best to intervene? Do we do the right thing even when it’s difficult, or do we submit to the cowardice of the moment? Do we let the fatigue of the era overwhelm us, or do we dig in deep and persevere?
It may seem inconsequential, but even the smallest decision matters. The energy of our individual strength rises to empower us collectively. We are not a collective, who do not matter as individuals. We are individuals who make an extraordinary impact collectively. If we are individually fearful, beaten, broken, hopeless, discouraged, depressed, sullen, resentful, bitter, and hostile, we drown each other. If we are individually strong, we bring peace to all.
One of the truest paths to peace is for individuals to nurture their personal human strength and potential for courage. Be strong in mind, body, and spirit. A healthy and positive outlook generates energy. This energy creates an unwavering desire to remain free. Tyranny has no fertile ground for roots to grab hold when the garden of our soul is built on solid rock. Choosing to be free is that rock.
When standing in even the smallest of crossroads, making what seems like an insignificant decision about whether to get exercise or skip it, whether to eat a nutritionally healthy lunch or not, whether to work passionately on a project or slump through the hours, whether to take time for a real conversation with a loved one or mutter unimportant things we’ll never remember later, whether to wear the clothes we save for “good” or pick something from the dull front part of our closet, whether to plant or uproot what has been planted, whether to do something extraordinary today, or not… imagine an eagle and a dove in flight. There are no small decisions. Every act of integrity adds more light to the winning column for humanity. Choosing to be positive is act of integrity. It takes effort. It takes strength. If others may mock you for it, it even takes bravery.
Peace of mind, body, and spirit comes through strength of character. It comes through the courage of standing in our personal, highly individual values; values that have these points in common: integrity, empathy and mercy. It comes through the bravery and energy we put into everyday decisions to choose hope, joy, love and freedom. Be as a dove, by first becoming an eagle.