One of my favorite Malcolm X quotes is, "if you want something, you had better make some noise." And rather than violence, what if we dared to make some noise for something as great as peace?
Violence gets all the attention, and after the chain of violent acts we had last year - Oregon, Iraq, Syria, Paris, San Bernardino - it feels like time to try something different. Even in the advent of the useful protests that have been happening - over race, immigration, or women's issues - it is the resistance, the anger, and the injustice that is crying out.
What if we got together and made a loud cry because we like each other? What if we made a lot of noise because we celebrate diversity? What if we gathered and told the world that we are spiritual, we take care of the environment, we care for people, we love life and want to see it change for the better? What if there was a loud noise in our world that was not violent, not sad, not angry, but that stood on a platform of love, compassion, and maybe even fun? Would that be newsworthy?
Let's start telling ourselves a different story, not to ignore or belittle situations of injustice, or things that need changing, but let's try starting out with a different agenda.
It is time for all of us peaceful people, who are commonly silent and passive, to stand up and out, and be strong, courageous, and loud. "We want world peace! This is our world and we will no longer stand for all of the violence!"
That is why I am so passionate about the World Culture Festival, a gathering of 3.5 million people, for the purpose of world peace, the celebration of diversity, and caring for the environment. It is expected to be the largest assembly of its kind in world history. It will have world leaders - businessmen, politicians, and academics - from around the globe, as well as common men and women, who work at the grassroots level. In addition to all 3.5 million people meditating together twice per day, there will be conferences on ethics in business and politics, as well as activism and social change.
Not only will the large gathering of people create hype, but it is believed that this gathering could have a healing effect, due to the large numbers of people meditating at the same time. In eastern Vedantic philosophy, as well as in western psychology, there is the notion of the "collective consciousness", which is the sum total of all the thoughts and emotions of individuals composing a group. It is this collective that governs the activities of our social lives. The more prevalent are the individual stresses within the collective, the more societies will be prone to war and violence. Through meditation and breathing techniques, when individual stresses calm down in large numbers, it is proven that there is an improvement in the quality of life of the surrounding population, as more people get in touch with "pure consciousness", or a state of peace and love, akin to being in the depth of the ocean, as opposed to its churning surface. Vedic science states that we are all born out of it, but due to stresses, it gets covered over. Meditation is a tool that helps us remember it, realign with it, and in doing so, create a more harmonious world around us. Thus, it is the development and strengthening of the individual through spiritual practice that is seen as the key to a harmonious society. Western psychologists such as Carl Jung, Emilie Durkheim, William James, and Gustav Fechner have also made similar arguments, as has Johan Galtung, the founder of the discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies.
"The International Peace Project in the Middle East", a study that was conducted in The Journal of Conflict Resolution, demonstrated a reduction in crime, murder, and war in both Israel and Lebanon, on account of large numbers of people meditating at the same time. "The Global Consciousness Project", an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists and engineers, has created many such studies with data collected over a 15 year period (see global-mind.org). Finally, Dr. Richard Brown, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as Dr. James Doty, Director of Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford, promote meditation practices due to their positive effects on the overall health of the individual human, and tendency of practitioners to develop greater empathy towards each other.
Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, there is one thing that is undeniable: our current strategy for world peace has been ineffective. Meditation for peace, education in human values, and a celebration of diversity, offers us an alternative way forward.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association of Human Values, and the spearhead of the World Culture Festival has said:
"We all have the responsibility of bringing peace to every nook and corner of the world. Unless every member of our global family is peaceful, our peace is incomplete. The previous century has been an era of uniforms and unions. Now let us move to an era of communion. So we need to bring a wave of social transformation, and each one of us here will need to take responsibility."
World Culture Festival 2016. I hope to see you there. Let's make some noise!
This post is part of a blog series produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with the Art of Living Foundation for the World Culture Festival. The goal of the series is to present thought leadership, opinions and solutions from leaders of multidisciplinary sectors of business, politics, arts, culture, music and religion who are assembling in India for the World Culture Festival, along with 3.5 million people, to celebrate humanity and promote peace, harmony and harmonious co-existence. The effort is also part of The Huffington Post's "What's Working" solutions-oriented journalism initiative.