Peace for Paris and Beyond

sunrise view from Trocadero in Paris, France
sunrise view from Trocadero in Paris, France

The human body is a complex structure made up of flesh, bones, organs, millions of cells and several systems--the nervous system, immune system, respiratory, circulatory--that keep it all running. If you try to think about all the complexities, all the details that go into making your seemingly simple being live, everything that your body is becomes difficult to grasp. But even structures as intricate as a human being can be boiled down to a few basic sub-atomic building blocks.

As I returned to Paris on Sunday, I began thinking more than ever about the simplicities that underly complex structures or situations. The violence that occurred in Paris this past weekend brought this thought to mind, but honestly, I've been thinking about it for the past few years--each time human life gets unnecessarily extinguished; each time there's a robbery gone wrong, a mass shooting; or a plane gets taken down, or students kidnapped, buses blown up, missiles fired.

There's always so much complexity surrounding these situations--political complexity and worse, emotional. It feels, these days, that nowhere is safe. If you're not worried about being hit by spraying bullets in a restaurant, you have to worry about making it out a movie theater alive, or that your kids make it home from school safely. These days it seems like peace is some far off dream buried under ideologies, political agendas and hurt feelings.

But these days, as there's literally and figuratively a dark cloud over Paris, I've done a lot to remind myself that peace isn't some distant state of world being. It's actually something that we can have now, if only we all decided.  In theory, and in a grandly simplified view of how the world works, world peace doesn't have to be achieved through centuries of lives lost and negotiations and conversations. World peace can be achieved by everyone just saying, 'hey, I'm not going to hurt anyone else anymore. I'm going to put aside my vengeance; I'm going to put aside my bloodlust, my ego, my pain. And I'm not going to hurt anyone. anymore.' If everyone made that decision today, we would have peace today. It's not as far off as we think.

Although there are parts of the human body that operate automatically--we breathe without having to think about it, our hearts beat without us having to think about it--we have so much control over a big part of who we are: what we do. We govern our own actions. We're not unpredictable hurricanes or freak accidents. We're cognitive beings that can control what we do and how we respond to and thus shape the world around us. World peace is literally a decision away.

Of course, getting to that sort of collective decision wouldn't be easy. But just the thought that a decision is all it takes is enough to keep me optimistic about where we as a human race may go. It's enough to keep me #choosingpeace in big and small instances of life and hoping others will too.

This post first appeared on Un-ruly

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