The B4Peace challenge for the month of August 2013 focuses on music. I thought of a about a million ways to approach this post, but in the end I decided to go for the personal. Most of you probably know that I write and play a lot of music, and one song of mine in particular I think resonates with the subject of peace more than any other.
Please take a moment to listen to and/or read the lyrics:
Last night a ship crashed in my backyard, and out stepped an Alien, I asked “Are you injured?”
She said “I’m fine but my warp drive is busted, and it’ll be a while before I can fix it”
She doesn’t understand why we don’t lend a hand and she just cannot see why we take such pleasure in each other’s misery.
I brought her in, made her a cup of tea she said “what’s that?” I said “it’s a TV”.
I showed her some try out for some talent show, then some news and world’s funniest videos.
She said “but those people were crying, some were hurt some were even dying” She said “is there not enough food on your planet?”
I said “there is but only some people can have it”
I saw a tear fall from her eye, she put her face in her hands and began to cry “I’ve traveled the galaxy and never seen so much crime and corruption it’s hard to believe.”
“Don’t they see that it doesn’t make sense to gain more for yourself at another’s expense, they just consume and destroy, where’s the love and where’s the joy?”
“I’m sorry but I have to go fix my ship” She whispered to me with a tremble in her lip. “Thanks for the tea and the hospitality, I’m sorry but your world is no place for me.”
We, as a species, have an amazing capacity to adapt to our circumstances, to become desensitized to cruelty and to justify heinous acts. These functions are often necessary for our survival, and can serve us well in hard times. However when the danger has passed we should, naturally, return to a state of compassion, empathy and peace; this is the most effective state to be in with regard to work, communication, creativity and so on.
Many of us, though, do not snap back; we continue to live in the survival state to some extent. We are hyper-vigilant, stressed out, full of fear, desensitized to violence and cruelty and we attack to get our needs met instead of peacefully communicating and negotiating. Why do we do this? Because it’s just the way things are set up. The fact is that for over 99% of your life you are in no danger to your being whatsoever, no danger at all! However thanks to the constant horror stories on the news and social media, the gossip, rumor and bullying that goes on in social circles, the perpetual career ladder climb and the “Keeping Up With The Jones’” consumerist mentality, we have simulated a 24/7 survival scenario!
“So where the heck are you going with all this Rohan?!”
My point is that we are so steeped in our culture, it’s very hard to separate ourselves from it; to look at it from the outside and see all that is wrong. Like the fish who never knew there was such a thing as water until he was dangling from a hook, gasping for breath. But if we concentrate we can put on our Alien Eyes!
A bit like beginner’s mind, Alien Eyes allow us to see things as if for the first time. The alien in my song comes from a place of peace, love, logic and efficiency; as do we all when we are born! When she is suddenly exposed to the way we do things here on Earth she is shocked, sickened and ultimately saddened. That is the natural response. However as we have grown up here we have become used to it, maybe not completely; most of us are still saddened to at least some degree by the way our world works, however we are filled – from a young age – with belief systems that justify the wrongs that are perpetuated against the inhabitants of this planet.
So take a moment today to imagine that you’ve crash landed here on planet Earth. Your true home world is a place where it is understood by all that the fastest and most effective path to wealth, contentedness and happiness is kindness, peace, compassion and cooperation. However that is not the case on this new and alien world called Earth!
Look around at the needless competition, the greedy hoarding of wealth and resources by the few, the manipulation of populations and individuals through linguistics, marketing, fear mongering, hate speech and political newspeak.
Look at everyone squabbling over crumbs and missing the big picture entirely.
Look at the miserable people worrying desperately despite having an abundance of food, shelter, warmth and companionship in their lives.
And look into yourself. Don’t blame – no one comes into this life wishing to hurt others or themselves – just look, don’t judge, just feel and watch. Try to find a little pocket of contentment somewhere in yourself, in your body. An area of safety, of happiness. It’s in there somewhere! Just find it and be with it. Maybe it’s a precious memory from childhood, a good friend, a safe place, a caring word. Let it expand and fill you up. Hold onto this resource, and bring your attention to it whenever you need to.
You see we put on our Alien Eyes not to depress ourselves; the world is the way it is, we can’t snap our fingers and make it all suddenly lovely. We can’t control the world. But what we can control is our opinion. When we look with fresh, Alien Eyes, we can actively decide that we DO NOT agree with cruelty, that we WILL NOT abide it in our own behavior, that we CAN NOT reach a sense of peace and contentment through dog-eat-dog competition and never ending one-upmanship.
We may have to live in this world, but we do not have to agree with the rules that govern it’s unfair social and political makeup. When you can see clearly what is wrong in the world, you can identify the same wrongness in yourself. And while the world is way to big to tackle alone, you can absolutely tackle those same issues in you.
Look for the cruelty in you, the impatience, the intolerance, the greed, the anxiety. Go for a walk, read some philosophy, take a nap, learn to Focus, be conscious of your behavior toward others.
We all kinda came from outer space one way or another right? So let’s use our Alien Eyes to identify the causes of our pain and work on them in ourselves And hey, if it catches on maybe we’ll end up living in the world where logic, love and compassion are king!
Thanks for reading, all the best
- “Peace” by Bobby McFerrin
- One Good Thing About Music
- ONE LITTLE CANDLE BURNING BRIGHT
- Music and Peace
- The Plague of the “Happy Whens”
Rohan Healy is the author of “Greeks to Geeks: Practical Stoicism in the 21st Century”, “The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You”, “SEX, Not as a Separate Subject: A Guide to Great Sex with Great People” and Sci Fi Action/Adventure novel Gyaros: The Mice Eat Iron!
Click the book titles to visit their Amazon pages, read the reviews, and sample or purchase the books.