Proposition 1: Humanity has a Consciousness of Gold

First, a confession. It isn’t often that a blog begins with an admission by the author that he has, indeed, forgotten something. Yet such is the exact moment when I realized I was intimately connected to all others: to a victim of rape in Congo, to a displaced refugee in Turkey, to the mother of a fallen soldier in Pakistan, to every person on earth who suffers violence or want of a simple meal.

This awareness is certainly not unique to me. For the first time in history, people are experiencing this realization as unified humanity. Due in large part to increasing connectivity, the human race is suddenly and completely aware of itself, of our diversity and similarities, of our greatest innovations and deepest challenges. This intense globalization of consciousness has profound implications for how we, as humanity, make our living and how we govern. It is transforming how we live our individual and collective lives.

How will a change in global consciousness make a difference in our lives? When the human race reaches a critical mass for a common understanding that we are intimately connected, will it change our world for the better? Can we ever be fully aware that the welfare of our family and friends depends, ultimately, on the welfare of everyone else on the planet?

Indeed, what happens in Singapore or Dubai affects the lives of Londoners and New Yorkers. Rumor of war in the Middle East quickly elevates the price of energy and sends quavers through stock markets from Shanghai to Sao Paulo. Even something as regional as the weather in Russia can greatly affect not only the price of bread in Europe but also the availability of biofuels in Los Angeles.

Thousands, even millions of people, who have lately been categorized as the One Percent, are extremely adept at benefiting from the fluctuation of capital. Billions of people, those in the so-called Ninety-Nine Percent, are not quite as lucky. Humanity is aware as never before that we are intimately associated, economically, politically and socially, both haves and have-nots, forevermore.

“The association between inequality and violence is strong and consistent. The evolutionary importance of shame and humiliation provides a plausible explanation of why more unequal societies suffer more violence.” — Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, The Spirit Level

Deep in our collective hearts we know something is wrong about systems that have created such inequity. When someone is favored by law and custom or disfavored by circumstance and prejudice, injustice is lightning quick in its expression. Yet global consciousness is not just about how fat or empty are our pocketbooks. It entails a deeper understanding that the threats to our mutual survival are now global in nature: natural disasters, conflicts over resources, pandemic disease, sectarian violence and endless wars.

Our current systems are little prepared for the global challenges sure to come. With technological innovations in biological and genetic engineering comes the responsibility to predict the outcomes of our decisions. Our ethics, our moral philosophies, our methods of understanding what is right and wrong, are straining under the dire challenges of a future where uncertainty is the rule of the day, where democracies are polarized, where mass destruction is in the hands of individuals. Our government and economic systems are, surely, reflections of our moral foundations.

Millions still suffer from malnutrition and disease. Millions die from war and abuse. As long as there is gross inequality of wealth there will be terrorism. As long as there is injustice there will be victims who lash out with violence. And most frightening, the proliferation of the global arms trade — from small arms, land mines and drones to chemical, nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction — has extended the reach of horrifying violence into the sanctified safety of our homes.

What basis do we have to be optimistic that global consciousness will be a boon to humanity? We know factually and intuitively that if we continue to be diverted by wars and economic downturns from doing what is necessary for peace — such as educating our children and extending the healthcare and nutritional needs for billions — the consequence will be violence as our constant companion. Our globalized world is certainly a long way from a culture of peace. Yet there is great hope. More powerful than fear, our tendency toward commensuration and empathy is evident in the surge of nonviolent actions. Witness the astounding humanitarian relief efforts after tsunamis and earthquakes. The news is rife with massive movements toward democracy. Trends toward expanded rule of law around the world point toward a trajectory of global freedom.

One good deed may not lead in a straight path to another, but collectively we reap verifiable benefits. All actions are interconnected and interwoven. Our global consciousness calls us back to the ancient moral foundation that has allowed our species to thrive in times of the best and worst.

The wisdom of practicing the Golden Rule is more than a primeval clarion call to “do the right thing.” It is the two-way street upon which our humanity travels. Reciprocity, or mutual exchange, is the clear and profound operative of the Golden Rule. Its fundamental ethic is our call to peaceful interaction. An ancient moral principle passed down from generation to generation from earliest humans to the modern world, the Golden Rule underlies our common values and has allowed humanity to survive and flourish.

As the ethical prime of human conduct, the Golden Rule provides an ancient, genetically-encoded or memetically-transferred moral foundation to meet our challenges in the future. It is the dynamic energy, a conscious decision-making mechanism that when applied to our economic, political and social systems, results in fairness and sustainability. With depthless, yet understandable dimensions of mind, body and spirit, the Golden Rule is the principle that guides us from self-centered and bordered consciousness toward the expansive love that lifts the wings of our evolution.





This blog contains excerpts from “The Economics of Peace: Freedom, the Golden Rule and the Broadening of Prosperity” by J. Frederick Arment:

The Golden Rule Institute is a collaboration of International Cities of Peace:

International Cities of Peace website:

A Woman’s Reflection on Voting – U.S. Election Day 2012

by Lynda Terry

Today is Election Day in the United States, and at about 11 this morning, I cast my vote at the gymnasium that serves as our village’s polling place. Despite persistent encouragement from political party candidates and their representatives to vote early, I chose to wait until today.

It was an easy two-block walk from my home, and the weather was great – bracingly cool with clear sunny skies. As I walked, I could feel my anticipation building. It would be my eleventh time voting in a presidential election since I turned 21 (the legal voting age in 1969). Even when I’ve not been enthusiastic about the choices of candidates, I’ve always been enthusiastic about the privilege of taking part in this ritual that culminates with my stepping into the voting booth – and so I really was looking forward to that moment.

I take my responsibility to vote seriously. For one, I think of it as a way to honor all those men and women, now and throughout history, who have worked and sacrificed so that people may have a voice in their communities’ futures. For that is what voting is about, for me – being part of a community and helping to make that community better through collective decision-making.

But there also is a more personal reason why I choose to go through the ritual of voting at my polling place, rather than through early voting or absentee ballot. I do it to honor my mom.

My parents had a mixed marriage, politically, with dad’s family belonging to and supporting one party, and my mom’s family, the other. Although my father often insisted he “voted the man, not the party,” (back then, few women were running for office, sadly), that did not seem to be borne out by what I saw as the one-sided and inflexible opinions he expressed. He also made it clear that he expected my mother to vote the way he did.

She appeared to go along with his wishes, avoiding getting into any arguments with him about it – but one day, when I was in my teens, and she and I were alone, my mother confided that she just let him think that she was taking his advice. “When I’m in the voting booth, I do what I want,” she said.

Amazingly, it had not occurred to me, up until then, that this could be an option – that in the privacy of the voting booth, she was free to reject my father’s overbearing ways and vote for whomever she wanted! My mother’s confession of this secret freed something in me. It encouraged me to contemplate just what did I believe about politics, government, and the issues they affected? What was my vision for the kind of community, country and world I wanted? Which political philosophies called not just to my intellect, but also, to my heart? It was a turning point, and by the time I was old enough to vote in my first presidential election, I had become a liberal, feminist, peace activist, political science major!

Dad and I eventually agreed to not discuss politics with each other, so as to keep the peace. Mom and I never needed such a rule – and I realize now, how each of my parents, in their own ways, demonstrated an important aspect of peacemaking through their responses to who I became. Dad, with his willingness to avoid conflict for the sake of love, and Mom, with her acceptance of me as I was, for the sake of love. Keeping the peace is easier when it is motivated by love.

So today, as I walked to my polling place, I thought about both my parents, but especially, about my mother. And about those earlier American women who gave so much to secure women’s right to vote. And I thought about women around the world who still, in this new millennium, cannot vote – cannot even safely go to school or fetch water from a river, let alone step into a voting booth. I have to vote for them, too, I thought – as a symbolic gesture, as a promise that they too will someday have this option.

When I got to the polls, the atmosphere was festive, with dozens of voters and poll workers cheerfully and patiently going through the process. While in line, I chatted with neighbors, friends and people I did not know. And then, when it was my turn, I stepped into the voting booth, got out my list of names, took a moment to close my eyes, picture my mom, picture all those other women, past, present and future – and then voted how I wanted to.

As I walked home, I felt at peace with how I had voted, and at peace with whatever the outcome will be. As soon as I got in the door, my husband said I’d had a visit while I was gone, from yet another campaign volunteer, wondering if I’d voted yet. I was sorry I’d missed her. I would have enjoyed telling her, “Yes I have – just the way I wanted to.”


To learn more about International Cities of Peace, see our website at

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 We are eager for your comments on individual posts, as well as your questions, topics or story suggestions – and submissions, if you’d like to write a blog post yourself. Contact Lynda Terry, ICP Advisory Council member and blog editor at

Resolving Conflicts and Restoring Harmony Through Restorative Justice

By Karen Latvala

Editor’s Note: I’m pleased to welcome Karen Latvala, a dear peace work colleague and friend, as a periodic contributor to the Fostering Peace blog! Restorative justice is a powerful peacemaking resource; please read on for Karen’s take on it, and see her bio at the end of the post to learn more about the great work she has been doing.


Conflicts seem to be everywhere—not just in the US political race and in international relations, but in families, communities, school, and even in our own hearts. Why can’t we all just get along, work together, collaborate, and be peaceful? We’re human—but that doesn’t excuse us!

Seeing injustice also can bring out anger and rage in us, even when we are committed to peace. Of course, anger is exponentially stronger in those who have never learned about inner peace and feel justified in harming anyone who goes against them.

Is there a better way?

What if there is a way to work with victims of crime, offenders, misguided youths, and upset people to resolve conflict and repair harm, making our lives safer? There is, and it is called Restorative Justice (RJ).

The process of sitting in circles to resolve conflicts has been used for centuries in tribal cultures as a way of working through conflict. Now the philosophy of Restorative Justice is emerging into mainstream cultures as a very effective way to settle conflict, whether related to the legal process or just resolving conflict in communities.

How would our world be different using RJ?

Just imagine people sitting down in a circle to dialogue about what they need, instead of raising their weapons and escalating the violence? What if  shooting victim Trayvon Martin and the man charged with shooting him, George Zimmerman, had known about Restorative Justice? They may have talked to find out what each other needed to feel safe before they moved into the conflict that resulted in Zimmerman killing Martin in what he felt was an act of self defense.

RJ can be used to settle any kind of conflict—in families, in schools, in the workplace and in conjunction with the legal system. It simply gets to the heart of what is causing the anger and discomfort of all parties. Facilitators guide participants to listen for the needs behind the conflicted feelings as the process works toward a resolution. Restorative Justice creates more harmonious relationships and safer communities.

How does Restorative Justice work?

Very simply, victims, offenders and community members sit with a facilitator in a circle (conference). They talk, listen and work out a plan that everyone agrees to that supports resolving the conflict. RJ is sometimes used as an alternative to sentencing through the legal system, especially for youth, or simply as a way to work out any kind of conflict at a school or in the community. When needs are met, tension dissolves.

How does RJ differ from the legal system?

The difference is clear from the questions we ask. The legal system focuses on blame and punishment. It asks:

1. What laws have been broken?

2. Who did it?

3. What do they deserve?

The restorative philosophy focuses on people, on repairing harm and restoring harmony. It asks:

1. Who has been hurt?

2. What are their needs?

3. Whose obligations are these?

The offender takes responsibility for their actions, the victim feels heard and the community feels safer. One method is PUNITIVE, and the other is UNITIVE.

RJ’s effect on recidivism

Statistics vary on recidivism rates, but most indicate that offenders who go through a structured Restorative Justice program only re-offend about half as often as those going through the punitive approach used in the legal system. That’s a significant and encouraging difference! The more we can rehabilitate offenders through empathy for their victims and taking responsibility for repairing the harm they caused, the better our society will be.

Using Restorative Practices

“Promoting peace and community justice through dialogue and conflict resolution.”

In the 18 months since I’ve worked with Restorative Justice in our community of Salida, Colorado (population 5500), I’ve seen the interest grow as more and more people find out about our work. We are working on funding to do more outreach, and we are asking for more referrals from the courts, which are sometimes resistant.

Our group began working with youth at risk three years ago, getting referrals from probation and diversion personnel. Because we believe that early intervention is important, we’re now collaborating with the schools on peer mediation to reduce bullying, and bringing in restorative justice and nonviolent communication to enhance that.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a wonderful process developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1980s, and which is described in his book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. NVC is like learning a new language—a language that could change the world if spoken by everyone!!

Our RJ director teaches NVC in the community and now in our alternative schools, with plans to expand to all the schools. We’ve also worked at the county jail, teaching NVC weekly to inmates. The inmates so appreciate learning a new way of dealing with their anger, understanding their feelings and needs, and learning to communicate in a new way with empathy and compassion. It is a language of the heart.

An RJ Success Story

In the past year, we had a 16-year-old boy referred to us by probation officials because he acted violently toward his mother. We convened a circle with mother and son very much at odds, despising each other. The circle ended a couple hours later with them communicating and hugging! By their account, they’ve spoken kindly to each other ever since. Furthermore, they took private classes in nonviolent communication, which they highly valued, and then they asked to join our board! Now they both work hard to further Restorative Justice in our community!

Restorative Justice and Nonviolent Communication are tools of hope that can transform our world, one person or one group at a time. The results are often amazing, transmuting feelings of hate into feelings of love and compassion.

October is Conflict Resolution Month.  What can you do to help reduce conflict in your life or community today?


Karen Latvala is a life coach as well as secretary of the board and program assistant for Full Circle Restorative Justice, Salida, Colorado. After a decade of working with women, consciousness, and inner peace, she began moving into the realm of outer peace via Restorative Justice. It is still the same work of resolving conflicts within ourselves first, and then helping others resolve theirs. She focuses on compassion, respect, empathy, communication, and bringing light and new perspectives to difficult situations, whether personally or in groups. She tenaciously holds a vision of peace, joy, freedom and higher consciousness for individuals and for a more harmonious, loving world. Karen can be reached at,, and 719-942-4758.


RJ and NVC Resources

Restorative Justice is used around the world. New Zealand and Brazil have outstanding programs, and it’s growing rapidly in the US, Canada and other countries. To learn more:


Salida, Colorado RJ program:

Colorado RJ council:

Dominic Barter (RJ pioneer in Brazil who has done amazing work in Rio)

International Restorative Justice Online Clearinghouse:

Center for Nonviolent Communication


The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr (pioneer in RJ in the US), Good Books, 2002.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg, Puddledancer Press, 2003. (excellent for improving communication for all)


 To learn more about International Cities of Peace, see our website at

Or find us on facebook!


We are eager for your comments on individual posts, as well as your questions, topics or story suggestions – and submissions, if you’d like to write a blog post yourself. Contact Lynda Terry, ICP Advisory Council member and blog editor at

For Malala on the International Day of the Girl: A Mother’s Heart Responds

My heart and thoughts today are with Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who fights for her life because of her courage and persistence in speaking out against the Taliban in her advocacy of education for girls. She and two other girls were shot by Taliban gunmen on October 9th, as the students were leaving their school in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan. While one girl is expected to survive, both Malala and her other classmate are in critical condition.

As of this writing, Malala has been moved to a more secure specialist hospital in an army garrison town, Rawalpindi, where she can get better treatment and hopefully, be better protected. The Taliban have announced that, if she survives, they will try again to kill her.

Does that last sentence not stop your mind? Where in this world – and how, in this world – is it OK for adults to publicly announce that they will kill children who disagree with their views? How can that be possible, at this point in the evolution of our species, that such a thing can be publicly announced, and that millions of people are not out in the streets, protesting, demanding, that the climate that makes such a thing possible be changed? How can there be anything else to talk about in the news media today but this story? Who cares about the election debates or what the latest celebrity fashion trend is or who will win the baseball play-offs? Men are trying to kill children! In public! With no remorse, but in fact, just more determined to keep trying! Someone, somewhere, STOP this!

OK. I need  a moment. (Just breathe, Lynda…)

As you likely have noted, my attempt to write about this has been hijacked by the anguished response of a mother … and also, I am realizing, the blind-to-reason murderous rage of the mother bear who will kill to protect her cubs.

Yes, that is what I, the editor of this Fostering Peace blog, just wrote. I could kill. In this moment, if those men stood before me. if I had a gun, I could shoot them.

Given certain circumstances, I could abandon in a heartbeat, my carefully cultivated, very hard-won commitment to peace and tear into men who do such unspeakable things to women and children. It takes my breath away to feel this potential rise up in me. It is powerful; it is a force! I am woman, hear me ROAR!

Ah. Just so … I am human.

An ordinary person, as vulnerable as the next person, to doing violence in the name of a noble justification, a worthy cause. Those Taliban men think their cause is noble, is worthy, too.

Ah. Just so … I am not so different from them.


Every day, I intend to be a vessel of peace. I try to choose peace in all my thoughts, words and actions. Every day, I have the intention to be of service to others and to the earth. And every day, there are many instances where I fail at these intentions.

But I keep trying.

And on a day like this – a day where my breath has been taken away by seeing the expanse of mountain left to climb for me to truly walk my talk, to truly be the peace I want to see in the world – well, as already noted, it’s humbling.

AND … it’s an opportunity.

The mother in me has an opportunity to call up from within my being, that same maternal response to what happened to Malala, for the Taliban men who tried to kill her.

For, I have a daughter … but I have a son too.

The Taliban men who shot Malala have mothers – and perhaps wives and children – who love them. And somewhere inside each of those men is the tender heart of a little boy who saw things no boy should see. And the tentative heart of an adolescent who grew up in a world where invasion, war, struggle was the every day reality, was his normal. Somewhere inside these men is a young child who loved his mother and his sisters, and was confused as he was trained by his culture to distrust and fear the ways of women – their beauty, their power, their gifts. And somewhere inside these men is the fear of and respect for their fathers and brothers and uncles who insisted they be like them, so as not to dishonor their family, their tribe, their god.

Ah. Just so … They are human.

The outrage of many against the Taliban men who shot Malala and her friends is justified. My outrage is justified. Now … how to turn that outrage into an opportunity to open to the healing power of compassion? How to reach across land and sea and time to a part of the world I’ve never been to and don’t understand in order to be a catalyst for change? Forgiveness? Reconciliation? How to do that here, in this country, where people also kill and mistreat children for outrageous reasons or no reasons?

I have no magic answers. But I have a daughter, and I have a son.

And I have four grandsons, ages 3, 6, 11 and 14.

For them, I must keep trying to be a vessel of peace, to choose peace, to choose forgiveness and compassion over murderous rage. To reach out from my broken heart, instead of pull back and close it down.

And for Malala. I must keep trying for her.


For more on the issue of insuring safe education for girls worldwide, read this op-ed by NoVo Foundation chair Jennifer Buffett:


To learn more about International Cities of Peace, see our website at

Or find us on facebook!


 We are eager for your comments on individual posts, as well as your questions, topics or story suggestions – and submissions, if you’d like to write a blog post yourself. Contact Lynda Terry, ICP Advisory Council member and blog editor at

A Reflection on Gratitude’s Role in Fostering Peace

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Unknown

“Peace in your heart will tell you what to do to spread peace in the world. … heart speaks to heart…” – Brother David Stendl-Rast, O.S.B.

This week, I received some encouraging news about a serious health condition I’ve been living with for more than a year. As I let the doctor’s words sink in, I felt relief, hope … but most of all, gratitude. Not just gratitude for the specifics of her report, but gratitude for the moment, for just … being here. And there was something else: a deep peace accompanied that feeling. That peace is with me still, as I type this – as is the gratitude.

So I’ve been contemplating the role of gratitude in fostering peace. What is the connection? Do we have to be at peace within ourselves in order to feel gratitude, or can cultivating “an attitude of gratitude” also cultivate a more sustained sense of inner peace?

For help with this, I turned to my “go-to” source on all things gratitude-related: the wonderful website,, which was started by the beloved Benedictine monk and writer, Brother David Stendl-Rast.

While searching the Gratefulness website, I came across a lovely video, “Every Moment Is a Gift,” in which Brother David speaks about peace and gratitude. He likes to use the word “gratefulness” to describe the actual felt experience of gratitude, saying, “Gratefulness is the full response to the gratuitously given moment.” What I think he means by that is that each moment is a kind of grace. We don’t ask for it, we don’t earn it, we don’t give something in exchange for it. Yet most of us pay more attention to the moments already gone, or the moments yet to come, than we do to the one right here, right now, happening as you read this letter of this word of this sentence.

Brother David says that to find inner peace, we first need to find the center of gratefulness in us, the full response to right Now – and becoming aware of our heart is a great way to get there. When we tap into the gratefulness in our hearts, we notice there is a warmth, a peace, that accompanies that feeling – and we can nurture and encourage our awareness of that feeling, that peace of gratefulness, through making this practice a daily ritual. It doesn’t take long, and we can do it anywhere, any time.

Once we have a greater awareness of how gratefulness increases our sense of inner peace, we have more capacity to add to greater peace in the world. “Gratefulness makes you more creative,” Brother David says, “and when we are more creative, we can think of more ways to bring peace…”

For some time, I’ve had a bedtime practice of bringing to mind things I am grateful for about the day that is completing. I always can find something, even if it’s just “I am grateful for the fresh apple I ate with breakfast” or “I am grateful for the coziness of my bed.” But I think that practice may be evolving now, with this new awareness of how gratitude and inner peace are connected. Last night, I simply put my hands over my heart center, and within seconds, could feel the gratefulness and peace in my heart. And something more – a sense of it rippling out into the world in some way. I continued in that way, moment to moment, until I fell asleep.

Perhaps the “rippling out” effect that I sensed actually is the right now of my sharing these reflections and experiences on this blog. I can’t really know … Don’t need to … I’m just grateful for – and at peace with – this moment.

~~~~ links to explore:

“Every Moment Is a Gift video

A sample practice on how to find inner peace through gratefulness:

A sample practice on how to help create world peace through gratefulness:

Learn more about Brother David Stendl-Rast and his work here:


To learn more about International Cities of Peace, see our website at

Or find us on facebook!


We are eager for your comments on individual posts, as well as your questions, topics or story suggestions – and submissions, if you’d like to write a blog post yourself. Contact Lynda Terry, ICP Advisory Council member and blog editor at

Be the Peace!

This coming weekend, on September 21, 2012, millions of people around the world will be observing the UN 30th International Day of Peace – or Peace Day – via thousands of different activities. You can find information about various events at the Culture of Peace Initiative website:

For this post, we’d like to highlight one particular event that anyone, anywhere can participate in – what organizers say could be one of the largest globally-synchronized meditation and prayer events in history!

On Friday (9-21-12), hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals worldwide will join together as ONE for BeThePeace.

BeThePeace will feature public meditation/prayer events in hundreds of cities worldwide, starting at 6 pm in local time zones, and creating a profound planetary wave of peace.

There also will be three Global Attunements for Peace during the day, when everyone can connect via telecast or webcast at the same time: 12 am, 12 noon, and 12 midnight EDT, creating three deep planetary pulses of peace. And throughout the day, people will be able to connect virtually via a Global Care Room, in which people can ‘see’ each other as points of light on a spinning Google Earth map, providing a stunning visual image of the global field forming in real time before your eyes.

Local organizations are invited to collaborate and create events in their city. You can find out if one is planned for your area at the BeThePeace website (see link at end of this post) – and you can create your own way to take part as well. Please do check out these links, below, and please do spread the word about this opportunity to your colleagues, friends, networks.

Check out a BeThePeace video at

Check out all the details at

Join the Facebook event at

However you participate, let’s all BeThePeace on the 21st – and resolve to continue being the peace every day, going forward!


Peace … Om Shanti … Salaam … Shalom


To learn more about International Cities of Peace, see our website at

Or find us on facebook!


We are eager for your comments on individual posts, as well as your questions, topics or story suggestions – and submissions, if you’d like to write a blog post yourself. Contact Lynda Terry, ICP Advisory Council member and blog editor at

What Is Your Peace Touchstone?

This morning, I awoke earlier than usual, and as I often do when this happens, I chose to meditate in bed until I either fell back asleep or felt ready to get up for the day. I’ve been meditating daily for 22 years now and have studied and taught the practice for most of those years – so have an ample array of techniques I can use. For about the last six years, though, repeating a sequence of four peace mantras has been my “default setting” most days, and that was the case this morning.

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

 Over and over, that sequence of words for peace in four different languages silently repeated in my mind. While thinking these words, I had my eyes closed, with my right hand on my heart center and my left hand on my lower abdomen, just below the navel. In the pre-dawn quiet, I could hear my heartbeat, its pace slow and steady – somewhere between 50-60 beats a minute. The pacing of the words and the pacing of my heart found a compatible rhythm that was not rushed; there was a space of silence between each word and each completion of the sequence.

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

I began to feel the gentle, fluid sensation of peace throughout my body – a sense of quiet calm and loving gratitude in every cell, and of being immersed in an ocean of peaceful energy. My mind periodically entertained other thoughts and awarenesses, but knew – because I’ve trained it well, over time – to come back to the peace refrain, again and again. My mind also knew to hold an intention underneath the repeating sound forms: to be peaceful, to think peaceful, to act peaceful … and to send out this peacefulness to others … to believe that it was possible to do this, and that it was happening.

Often when I meditate, inspiration or guidance comes, and that was the case this morning. I felt I was to share on this blog, this particular way that I use meditation practice to also practice peace. Because the world dream of peace begins as a dream in each person’s heart, and that dream is a seed that needs nurtured and tended daily. Having a peace touchstone can help us remember our commitment to our dream.

To bring about a culture of peace, we need not only the bigger, more public gestures and projects, like becoming cities of peace; we also need the quiet, personal acts of will and intention. We need a peace touchstone that we can go to, day after day, whether meditating or not, whether feeling peaceful or not. We need a word or phrase or sentence or image or symbol or feeling or sound that we can call forth in our awareness, that reminds us of peace, that helps us feel at peace, that motivates us to want to choose peaceful responses rather than non-peaceful ones.

And we need to remember that when we return to our peace touchstone again and again, and have the intention, again and again, for its peaceful effect on us to ripple out and touch others, it helps. It helps us feel and be and act more peaceful, and it helps others do the same.

We may each have our own seed, our own dream of peace, but we have only to look out into life to realize we are planted in a vast and rich field with billions of other peace dreamers. Our roots are sunk deep into the common ground that is the world dream. Having a peace touchstone to turn to helps us remember to access that field of peace as much as we can. The more we go there, the more peace will grow there.

So, what is your peace touchstone? If you don’t have one, feel free to try the one I’ve shared. And if you do have one, please share it in the comments section below this post. It may be just what someone else needs to help them remember and nurture their own dream of peace.

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…

Peace… Om Shanti … Salaam… Shalom…