We live something like a reality show in full swing, jumping from conflict to conflict. The news coverage is 24/7, with crises from Iraq to Ukraine and now Israel and Palestine. Some media outlets are already working on the next clash with China, Taiwan and the Philippines. All the media, both mainstream and so-called independent, focus on the endless conflicts facing our planet. People in the streets are calling for a bogus ceasefire, not recognizing that what is at stake is not just war against peace, but violence against non-violence.
The system uses violence in all its glory, from physical and economic violence to religious and psychological violence. Every political faction plays the game of violence with endless excuses, sometimes invoking historical explanations and sometimes religious rights.
Violence is now an acceptable state of mind. We have gotten to the point where we don’t even recognize violence in our daily lives. For most of us in the US, it is “normal” that we can lose our jobs and end up homeless overnight. It is normal for millions of people to not have access to health coverage. Fear has seeped into every aspect of our personal and social interactions, making true connection between people very complicated. People are increasingly isolated, with psychological problems producing increasing levels of suicide, with only alcohol and drugs to solve their problems. Tragically, these fears and insecurities are not recognized as social violence, but rather as personal flaws or failures.
In our current “democracy”, people vote for more security by accepting armed police to patrol the subway platforms, not understanding the connection to the increasing militarization of our society. In schools, we ask our young children to send letters of support to our troops, without questioning how this shapes the spiritual direction of future generations. People are repulsed by stories of violence, but are then led to believe that the only possible response is more violence (after all, killing “people” is clearly not the same as killing “terrorists”).
We are faced with a dictatorship of violence run by monsters, social and political leaders who use the media to impose their disgusting and calculated solutions. These people form a black hole, absorbing all our energy, leaving us empty and speechless.
This process is well described in this short excerpt from Shiloh’s public address given 50 years ago on May 4, 1969, and still holds true today. The talk is called “The Cure of Pain”:
You can only end violence in yourself, others and the world around you with inner faith and inner meditation. There are no false ways out to end violence. This world is about to explode and there is no way to end the violence. Don’t look for false exits. There is no policy that can put an end to this frenzied zeal for violence. There is no party, no movement on the planet, which can put an end to violence. There are no false exits from violence in the world…
We choose to invest most of our mental energy, financial resources, and technological advancements in these false exits that lead us in the wrong direction.
Most wars could have been avoided, while poverty and insecurity can also be avoided. The question is where to put our energy and resources. The world has experienced some very serious peace processes that have produced long-term, transformative development. Nonviolence requires the same investment, work, and strategy as violence, but produces a very different long-term result.
Much more needs to be done than street marches. We must change governments and the direction our budgets are built on, and we must abolish nuclear weapons. Most importantly: we must realize that we are 8 billion human beings being manipulated by a very small minority of cowards. These cowards rely on violence instead of having the courage and dignity to sit down and resolve their differences face to face. We must stop believing their lies, their justifications for violence, and instead have faith that humanity can choose a nonviolent way out of this madness. Where will this faith be fueled?