"We will have to change," said President Barack Obama in response to the recent shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. "These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change."
I could not agree more.
In my life-long pursuit of instigating change - helping people move from violence and disregard to peace and respect -- I have found that change happens simultaneously in the inner and outer worlds. Just as the recent violence began within the mind of young Adam Lanza, peace begins within each of our own minds.
Every moment is a choice to go in the direction of peace or to feed the fires of violence. Since everything begins as a thought, we need to observe our thoughts -- not judge them, but know what they are. That way, we can be more informed about the forces that drive us in the direction of harmony and peace or discord and violence.
Since the recent tragedy, scores of Americans have focused on the politics of gun control, the "out there." While it is important to participate in external transformation, we cannot effect lasting change without also transforming our internal landscape -- the "in here." We simultaneously live in both worlds -- inner and outer.
My life is driven by a mission to manifest balance, harmony, love and respect. To this end, I counsel clients who seek to make a change in their lives; I teach children how to express themselves authentically and I write books about personal transformation. By helping people consciously design and master how they walk through the world, I also help them successfully impact that world - the "out there." And so I take an active role in facilitating both inner and outer peace.
We all have the power to impact both these worlds. First, however, we need to recognize that peace is active, not passive. It is not only the absence of conflict and war, but it is also the presence of compassion and love. To manifest peace in the world around us, we need to mindfully and regularly contribute to its existence, through our thoughts and behaviors:
Once we are aware of our thought patterns, we have the power to consciously choose those contributing to peace. By reinforcing this groove in our neurological pathways, we actively strengthen it, until peaceful thoughts become our default. With this foundation, we are ready for the next step of putting the peaceful thoughts into motion -- sharpening our awareness of what others need and what we can provide, opening our hearts to offer compassion and receive comfort, reaching out to give assistance and accept help and otherwise drawing from our skills and talents, to support those around us and ourselves.
In other words, yes, let us consider reforming gun laws. But let us also use this tragedy as a reminder that every day, in ways both big and small, in our inner and outer worlds, we have the power to be agents of peace. Let us not allow the recent violence to numb us out and make us cynical. Rather, let us use it as motivation to be even more loving, respectful and actively involved than before. Every day, every hour, in every interaction, let us reflect: What can I do right here, right now, to manifest peace?
Or as President Obama put it, "We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and it is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this."
I know that we can. And together, one open heart at time, we will.