The greatest threat to evil is peace.
When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a young American president less than 9 months into his first term, an endless stream of negative voices (some from the opposition forces within his own country) immediately condemned the award. How could he receive it? What has he done? He's not deserving! Some comments even seemed to suggest that it was somehow his fault he received the recognition. With such a fuzzy grading matrix, it made me wonder if they would consider anyone worthy of a peace prize. And I realized that maybe some were just against the whole idea of peace in the first place.
Members of the Christian faith are taught about an average Joe from a place called Galilee. He lived a little over 2012 or so years ago. Some parents tell their kids they had to walk a mile to school uphill in the snow every day to emote their hardships. This poor guy was born in a barn after a donkey ride through the desert. He was from a blue collar family that lived a village out in the middle of nowhere. His entire life he didn't have a paying job. He simply spread peace. He wished it to all with whom he came in contact. His heart was so filled with the love that peace delivers, he was able to help those around him and make their lives better. He had an army, but they carried no arms. And the greatest world power at the time with the biggest army known to man was so afraid of his peace that they murdered him. Yet, he never held a weapon and never did harm a single soul in his 33 years of life. Through peaceful demonstrations, he showed the power of love that the world had been given.
Yes, peace scares the hell out of evil. And that hell, when unleashed, is the worst power known to man. Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and a host of others committed to peace have always been seen as major threats by forces of evil. The world's major religions follow deities who promoted peace, no matter how many ways we've twisted their teachings to deliver our own brand of justified evil.
As far too many political leaders have demonstrated, it's much easier to be evil if you hide behind God to justify your actions. Peace is a much larger, more difficult challenge. Trust is peace's cornerstone, and it is much more difficult to attain. The only reliability of evil is that it always remains, in part because it is much easier to implement. Peace takes work, patience, generosity of spirit and love for both those you want to protect and those with whom you may disagree. Evil simply takes action.
The biggest overt evils of the world -- war, genocide and other such high magnitude atrocities -- are only a small part of the darkness we face. Potent evils lurk in our every day lives in a myriad of forms. hey can appear on the grand scale as horrendous crimes, or live as water cooler lies told in the hopes of causing someone personal harm. The peace of self is most precious, and worthy of protection. Fighting the bad on all fronts -- from war to words -- is what will help us become the peaceful people the Big Guy in the Clouds had intended. Only when we have peace within us can we truly deliver that message to those who surround us.
As there is seemingly no end to evil, there is also no end to the quest for peace. We are imperfect creatures that are subject to errors in judgment. We make mistakes and we make on purposes that harm the idea of peace. And that's where reconciliation comes in. A key ingredient in peace is the ability to own wrongs and attempt to right them.
We must also consider that there are humans in the world that have no use for peace. Unfortunately, enlightenment comes to people in different measures, with some seeming to get none at all. We can pray for them, but have to accept that they may never see a need for anything short of chaos. We have to work around them and reach those with ears to listen.
In the U.S. court system, the only true defense for violence is reactive in nature. If you protect yourself, it is reason for action and its outcome forgivable. Even for those who love peace, sometimes engagement of evil is inevitable. But it should be the absolute last resort, not the first option. And when restored, peace should be promoted and nurtured and stewarded.
Eventually, peace will win the battles evil cannot. And when it does, we will have the enlightenment that the Big Guy in the Clouds had fully intended. Until then, those of us committed to peace have our work cut out for us.
Sarah O'Leary is an author, businesswoman, licensed minster, life and afterlife coach, and founder of Spiritual Inclusionism. She can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org