I've known that my mission is peace for 17 years. I learned this the hard way--in a domestic violence situation. For years, I looked for a peace organization that I could throw my abundant energy and resources behind. I never found one that matched my vision.
The reason is simple. Most peace organizations fight for peace. Most peace organizations are against issues, not for them. Most peace organizations focus on world peace. My 17 years of development, if you will, have made some things clear.
First, I'm not really interested in world peace. Oh, don't misunderstand me, I think world peace is a good idea. It's just that I have come to believe that if I can't be at peace with the kid who bags my groceries or the guy who cuts me off on the highway, who am I to demand peace in Gaza?
Lesson One: Peace has to begin within.
Inner peace is the goal. Inner peace. For me -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That way I can give it to everyone I meet.
Second, I've come to understand that peace is not about being against anything. A lot of peaceworkers espouse nonviolence. Nonviolence is good, no question, but peace itself is not nonviolence. Peace is not an absence of war. It's not non-anything.
Lesson Two: Peace is a living, breathing, creative, dynamic energy. I don't know what will make peace. The process changes.
An embodied inner peace makes for an intriguing life. Living in 'I don't know' is powerful. Making peace requires creativity.
Third, fighting for peace is ridiculous. A.J. Muste said, "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." This means that how I get there matters as much my destination.
Lesson Three: Peace can be elusive; inner peace teaches self-forgiveness.
I will (not might) fall off the peace wagon. I cannot fight to regain my peace. Instead, I acknowledge my departure, forgive myself, and climb back on.
So now, back to a peace organization to support. None of them fit my calling. So, we all know what I did, right? I started one myself.
The idea came to me in a roundabout, backdoor way, as so many good ones do.
I'd written a play called PeaceWomen, monologues comprised of their own words, to celebrate the women Nobel Peace Prize laureates. At its Tufts University world premiere for World Theatre Day in 2008, we cast the roles both gender- and color-blind. When the young Korean-American man playing Aung San Suu Kyi said, "I am my father's daughter," I wanted the audience to have a picture of the Nobel woman.
We decided to put the ladies' photos in the program so the actors had limited space for their bios. I asked that each bio be two sentences. The first one defined their place in the University. For the second, each finished this sentence: "To me peace is ..."
Their responses were amazing!
At the end of PeaceWomen, the last woman laureate, Wangari Maathei of Kenya's Greenbelt movement, says, "In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness. That time is now."
Long after the single performance of the reading, people approached me with how powerful the theatre piece is. We are invited to Wheaton College this spring for a performance. (If you think a performance of PeaceWomen belongs in your community, email me.)
Anyway, that sentence I started? To me peace is ... wouldn't let me go. In April, I began to tweet a daily ... To me peace is. People started to follow me. Eventually, I got it. I was called to create what Wangari Maatthei had called for: a shift to a new level of consciousness. The goal of ToMePeaceIs.com is to change the consciousness of the world about peace.
So, dear one, what is peace to you?
Join me at ToMePeaceIs.com and be the new level of consciousness the world needs.
Follow Dr. Susan Corso on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PeaceCorso