War is the plague that human beings bring upon themselves. It is also a plague we might be able to end. On any given day since you and I were born, some part of the world has been at war-in 2003 the total number of open conflicts was thirty. In the twentieth century at least 108 million people died in wars. Of the 20 largest military budgets on earth, 14 belong to developing countries. The United States spends more on its military than the next 16 countries combined.
That war is the major problem in the world is undeniable.
The need for a new idea is just as undeniable.
The new idea is to bring peace one person at a time until the world reaches a critical mass of peacemakers instead of warmakers.
"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." - AJ Muste
Why Ending War Hasn't Worked
Peace movements have tried three ways for bringing war to an end:
Activism, the approach of putting political pressure on governments that wage war. Activism involves protests and public demonstrations, lobbying and political commitment. Almost every war creates some kind of peace movement opposed to it.
Why has it failed.
Because the protesters are not heard.
Because they are worn down by frustration and resistance.
Because they are far outnumbered by the war interests in society.
Because their idealism turns to anger and violence.
Activism has left us with the ironic picture of outraged peacemakers who wind up contributing to the total sum of violence in the world.
Humanitarianism, the approach of helping the victims of war. Bringing relief to victims is an act of kindness and compassion. As embodied by the International Red Cross, this effort is ongoing and attracts thousands of volunteers worldwide. Every nation on earth approves of humanitarianism.
Why has it failed?
Because humanitarians are wildly outnumbered by soldiers and warmakers.
Because of finances. The International Red Cross's annual budget of $1.8 billion dollars is a tiny fraction of military budgets around the world.
Because the same countries that wage war also conduct humanitarian efforts, keeping the two activities very separate.
Because humanitarians show up on the scene after the war has already begun.
Personal transformation, the approach of ending war one person at a time. The prevailing idea is that war begins in each human heart and can only end there. The religious tradition of praying for peace is the closest most people will ever come to ending war in their own hearts. Most people have actually never heard of this approach.
Why has it failed?
Because nobody has really tried it.
"Can you be the change that you wish to see in the world?" - Mahatma Gandhi
Why War Ends With You
The approach of personal transformation is the idea of the future for ending war. It depends on the only advantage that people of peace have over warmakers: sheer numbers. If enough people in the world transformed themselves into peacemakers, war could end. The leading idea here is critical mass. It took a critical mass of human beings to embrace electricity and fossil fuels, to teach evolution and adopt every major religion. When the time is right and enough people participate, critical mass can change the world.
Can it end war?
There is precedent to believe that it might. The ancient Indian ideal of Ahimsa, or non-violence, gave Gandhi his guiding principle of reverence for life. In every spiritual tradition it is believed that peace must exist in one's heart before it can exist in the outer world.
Personal transformation deserves chance.
"When a person is established in non-violence, those in his vicinity cease to feel hostility." - Patanjali, ancient Indian sage
The Best Reason to Become a Peacemaker
If you transform yourself into a peacemaker, you won't become an activist marching in the streets. You will not be "anti" anything. No money is required. All you are asked to do is to go within and dedicate yourself to peace.
It just might work.
Even if you don't immediately see a decline in violence around the world, you will know in your heart that you have dedicated your own life to peace.
But the single best reason to become a peacemaker is that every other approach has failed.
We don't know what number the critical mass is--the best we can hope is to bring about change by personal transformation. Isn't it worth a few moments of your day to end 30 wars around the world and perhaps every future war that is certain to break out?
Seven Practices for Peace
The program for peacemakers asks you to follow a specific practice every day, each one centered on the theme of peace.
Sunday: Being for Peace
Monday: Thinking for Peace
Tuesday: Feeling for Peace
Wednesday: Speaking for Peace
Thursday: Acting for Peace
Friday: Creating for Peace
Saturday: Sharing for Peace
Our hope is that you will create peace on every level of your life. Each practice takes only a few minutes. You can be as private or outspoken as you wish. But those around you will know that you are for peace, not just through good intentions but by the way you conduct your life on a daily basis.
Each day I will also share a video to accompany the peace theme for that day, so look for those as well.
Sunday: Being for Peace
Today, take 5 minutes to meditate for peace. Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four words: Peace, Harmony, Laughter, Love. Allow these words to radiate from your heart's stillness out into your body.
As you end your meditation, say to yourself, "Today I will relinquish all resentments and grievances." Bring into your mind anyone against whom you have a grievance and let it go. Send that person your forgiveness.
Please support my intention for peace by going to www.intent.com . Then create your own intention to add the power of your intention toward peace in the world. Share this message with all your friends to create a tidal wave of peace for the planet right now.
Follow Deepak Chopra on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DeepakChopra