Imagine World Peace (I’m Not the Only One)
Nearly thirty years ago John Lennon dreamed of world peace when he sang, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I’ma dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and
the world will be as one…” Some called the song naïve, both then and now, but recently I was reminded of Lennon’s “naïve” dream while watching a news clip on yet another senseless ISIS slaying, which was so ruthless it shifted me into a moment of profound reflection regarding the world’s condition.
Of course ISIS is hardly alone when it comes to terrorizing the world, but I’m not strictly referring to terrorist groups here. In honesty, the United States government has been, without parallel, the most consistently violent force on Earth. Of course the US justifies its warlike behavior in the name of self-defense, but this is hardly impressive. In fact virtually all groups, governments, and individuals who commit violence claim self-defense. This is precisely the trap of violence: there always seems to be a reason for it—whether driven by hatred, greed, or fear. ISIS, too, claims to be victims of a Western agenda bent on ruling the planet.
The purpose of this post, however, is not to slam the government or ISIS, or any other group, for their warlike behavior. Rather, my message today involves something totally different from the world’s obsession with assigning blame and pointing fingers—which is really just another form of attack. I merely want to share a very simple realization that I came to when reflecting on the brutality of the world we live in juxtaposed against Lennon’s dream of world peace, which is this: No matter how hard you try, you cannot heal hatred with more hatred. You cannot end violence with violence. You cannot stop others from attacking you by attacking them in return. ISIS is not a terrorist group. ISIS is a spirit. It is the spirit of hatred; and the more you attack that spirit with bombs, bullets, and missiles, the more you feed it with energy. It’s a simple truth: hatred feeds hatred. Perhaps this notion was expressed most eloquently by another of the world’s rare teacher’s of peace, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he pointed out, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Stated in plain terms like this, King’s message is so obvious it cannot be dismissed. If you want to heal or fix anything, you can only do so using an opposite force. Investing in hatred will only increase hatred in the world, not diminish it. ISIS itself may be defeated in this way, but its spirit of violence will only spread, and more terrorist groups will rise from its ashes with an infusion of fresh hatred fueling their assaults. This is a never ending cycle of foolishness.
With this in mind, I’d like to invite you to join with me in reconsidering Lennon’s dream by investing in peace in your own way, starting with your own life. The dream of world peace only sounds like madness because so few have ever tried it. Yet consider this: violence has never worked to solve our problems. This is a fact, not an opinion. You need only watch tonight’s news to realize this is true. Our current path to end violence has failed. It is time we faced this reality and allowed wisdom to dictate a new path for us; it is time that we redirected our efforts from making war to making peace. What if, as a people, we devoted ourselves, our money, our resources, our people, and most importantly our hearts, to reaching out to other nations and people in the name of actively waging peace instead of waging war? What if we established a government department specifically designed for just this purpose? What if we trained people particularly adept at bridging gaps and finding common ground amongst people and unleashed this Army of Peace upon the world? It wouldn’t cost much, not nearly as much as war does. I predict if we invested even a measly ten percent of our whopping military budget on the development of peace we wouldn’t need military missions to stop groups like ISIS—because they simply would not exist. And if they did, they would be so lacking in supporters they would hardly pose a threat to anyone for long.
What if, America? What if, Europe? What if, Australia, Africa, Asia? What if we collectively took on John Lennon’s lonely dream and we dreamed it together? What if we really invested our power and our money and our might into this worthy goal?