December 3, 2015

Enough Violence: Let’s cultivate Peace, Presence & Love.

Flickr/jimmy brown

How does one protest against protest signs?

Certainly not by carrying a protest sign, right?  But there are other ways—ways that work, that don’t inspire reaction or resistance or being horrified by what’s going on.

The unprotest.

How does one protest against mass shootings, without talking about mass shootings?

Mass shootings, of course, are relatively scarce—but they are also so horrible that the press cannot possibly avoid them.

Gun control, though perhaps a good idea, won’t solve these. It seems like a toothless, random and ready-made answer with an agenda. And agendas themselves are defensive. We can’t defend ourselves by defending ourselves, anymore than we stop violence violently.

My grandfather used to say, “You don’t stop a noise with a noise.” He was referring to someone saying, “Shhhhhhhhhhhh!” when they wanted you to be quiet.

No, we don’t stop violence by being violent. We do it by meeting hard with soft. If we want something to disappear, we must introduce it to its opposite. When opposites, plus and minus charges of electricity, mix in your toaster—bread becomes toast. And when you butter that toast, and take a warm succulent bite, you have made this world a little better place.

That toast reminds us that this is pleasure planet—it is a part of taking good care of ourselves. Therefore, peace begins with the unprotest of having exactly what we want for breakfast. Peace begins at home, with the little things we do and don’t do.

I recall my mother violently hitting the sliding glass door with her face. She thought the door was open and discovered, when she smacked into it, just how fast and unaware she was in that moment.

Each time we move—whether it is walking from one room to another, just standing up and sitting down, or getting into a car—we have an opportunity to flow with awareness.

I had a movement teacher. She was able to bring sweet attention to each movement—crossing her legs, leaning forward, walking and talking became profound meditation. As I watched her move, I swooned, realizing how fluid each movement can be when aligned and coordinated in the presence of attention.

This unprotest brings attention to everything we do today—the little things. When we celebrate the little things—like picking up the salt shaker, clearing our throat or checking our cell phone—we celebrate a lot. If we wait until we win the lottery or get that promotion, then we won’t be celebrating much, and celebration is a contribution to peace and presence. Celebrate things you otherwise might not notice.

Find the jewels.

When I was little, we used to visit my aunt. She lived north of Chicago, on Lake Michigan. Clamoring down the hillside behind her house, we could hardly wait to visit the beach. On that beach there were pieces of sea-glass. You can cut yourself on broken glass, but the edges of sea-glass have been smoothed by the waves, the sand and action of water. It is more like jewelry and less like glass.

We too are like jewelry—when we have smoothed and softened ourselves.

The excitement of finding a piece of blue glass thrilled us. Search your life for your brightly colored memories. Those moments of non-violence and peace that make life worth living.

The more open and curious we were, the more glass we found.

I recall in the late 60s, an early morning in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco during the “summer of love.” The festivities of the night before had left many cans that could be recycled. A shoddy looking fellow was wandering from barrel to barrel, picking out cans. He knew where each barrel was, since he followed the same route each morning.

But, with his designated route, he only got a few cans. He failed to notice that between barrels there were many cans people had just dropped on the ground.

As you wander through your life today—show up. Bring attention to each moment, to the journey. Being present during the journey makes it more likely you will be present when you reach your destination. Anticipating where we will be next, has us missing the pleasure of being where we are now.

Not being present, not being here, not noticing where we are is a form of violence to this moment. Notice the moment and welcome the next. That way we will live more fully—it is one way to notice this world is soft, smooth and full of jewels.

I’m old enough to remember the 60s—a time when we loved each other. A time when people traveled across the country in Volkswagen buses and the like, greeting and meeting and loving people. We can do our own version of that right now. We can do it at work, we can do it in our neighborhood, we can do it everywhere.

If we shrink, if we fear, if we defend ourselves, against what is happening around us—then we play right into the hands of it. Instead, let’s open. Instead, love. Instead, ponder how it is you can have your day—and the day of another and the day of random stranger—feel softer and more open.

Don’t look away from all that is happening—look more deeply into it, look more lovingly at it, embrace it and hold it so close that it turns. Turns revealing something softer than it first appeared. Turns into realities right now instead of future possibilities. There is never anything wrong with right now, be present.

Just being here, without even doing anything, but noticing all that is around you makes a personal contribution to this world being a better place. It is what you do on the way to your volunteer work that matters as much as the work itself.

Heck, create a game. Give a dollar to a stranger. Give a smile to somebody you normally wouldn’t. Or if you have one, tip your hat to everyone you meet.

Instead of working out harshly at the gym—workout gently, bring attention to your muscles to the movements. Take peace, softness and smoothness everywhere you go. That is how you can make sure it is there when you need it.

Make yourself, and somebody else, significant today. Don’t make them do something to get your attention. Give your attention freely, and receive attention too. Getting enough attention begins by giving all that you have, which makes you open to receive and contributes to personal peace, the first step toward world peace.

How waiting can contribute to world peace.

There is a lot of waiting—in the line at the grocery store, while something is downloading or that hourglass is spinning as your computer is “thinking.” You may travel through traffic, on your way to work, or wait at the doctor’s office.

There is a lot of waiting, and we can use that time constructively. We can fill waiting time with love and curiosity. Sometimes I think about my granddaughter when I am waiting. Other times I pause and feel into my body. Other times I just ponder how lucky I am, or how much money I have, or how good dinner was last night.

Time spent waiting can create a context of love, acceptance and gratefulness. Its a violent act, when waiting, to throw yourself in front of the “bus” of anticipating what you will do next. In fact, the future offers an edgy distraction from right now.

How being busy can contribute to world peace.

Busyness can distract us from what matters. But it doesn’t have to. In the midst of your busy day, or a particularly stressful task, take a moment and notice that you are breathing, present and busy.

Notice yourself—the common denominator in any good day. There you are, so busy that you forgot that you existed. Remember that you exist, and you will have taken a step toward peace, calmness, softness and openness.

A call to disarm.

I have been appointed to be in change of disarmament.

Who appointed me? I did. It is time to drop the defenses, be disarming and get on with life. All dropping of shields, protective gears, dogmatic philosophies and stuck thoughts will be unilateral.

Not only do we not need our defenses anymore, but they never really worked anyway. We imagined that they worked so they only defended our own imagination. And a defended imagination doesn’t play the pivotal part that it can in making life worth loving and living.

Yes, I am in charge of disarmament, and I will lead the way. Into the absence of fray we go—no banners flying and totally open and unprotected. Join me today—every moment and every hour will be different. You will discover that this is a bigger and friendlier world than you ever dreamed of.

And without defenses, dreams do come true. All of them.

If you want to begin to lay down your defenses—your sarcasm, passive-aggressive quips, hiding places and things you are sure of—now is the best time to start. But don’t rush it. Rushing itself is defensive. Take it slowly, at your own pace. This isn’t a new race, it is a scenic gambol, where the sights make the journey worth taking.

Sooner or later—I look, feel and listen forward to your undefended company…



Let there be Peace on Earth & Let it Begin with Me.


Author: Jerry Stocking

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/jimmy brown

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