What does sustainable peace look like?

Most people fear that peace will never be possible.  However, peace does not mean a lack of conflict, nor does it mean a lack of violence.   What, then does peace look like?

Here’s the truth: peace is a journey, not a destination. And sustainability is about health, not economics.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

When you take a long view of human progress, you see things really are getting better.  We war less, share more power, and recognize more rights. These trends are continuing today, and are transforming humanity into a peaceful, conscious species, co-existing with the life to which it’s connected.

So, the real question is, what can YOU do to help continue progress?

In following with the Justice For Life theory of change, here are four simple rules that if adopted by a simple majority of humanity, would quickly result in a vastly more peaceful planet:

The right to speech does not include the right to provoke or communicate anger or hate towards other people.

Never speak aggressively. Provoking emotional responses puts other people in a defensive state and reduces their capacity for thinking compassionately and working collaboratively.

Rather than speak out of anger or disdain, take your time, and work toward communicating at deeper and deeper levels. Accept that you don’t need to agree with people to enjoy their company and collaborate for a better world.

There’s a reason we called him a “Scrooge”

Never seek profit. Profit-seeking is a short-term, zero-sum game that requires other people to loose. Profit seeking promotes behaviors that reduce compassion and concern for the broader impacts of decisions in a dangerous trade-off for short term gains.

Rather than invest for profit, invest to grow impact. Help grow the value that investments deliver to your community, or to society as a whole. If your investment offers no value to anyone but it’s investors, it’s by nature a consolidation of value away from society as a whole, and toward those who already have plenty.

Political polarization is a perfect example of how vilifying people due to their affiliations detracts from the real work of collaborating to make rules and manage our civilization.

Never vilify humans. People are bad because they are justifying advantageous behaviors. Often, those acting like bullies were themselves victims, and need help understanding their own pain and the right way to get attention. Attacking them further justifies a worldview of scarce resources and hostile humans on the hunt to collect as much as possible.

Rather, work to see the good in everyone, and trust that as they consider their lives as a whole, they are just as interested in being seen by others as good, and loved. Hate destroys the opportunity for change. Love enhances it.

Unsustainable consumption causes harm to the consumers and to their natural environment.

Never consume unsustainably. Anything you take from the planet can be replenished, unless you take more than you need, or take things harvested without concern for sustainability. There’s nothing wrong with consuming, so long as it’s healthy for you, and for the planet.

Rather than consume for pleasure, consume thoughtfully, and contribute to our collective effort to be healthy with our minds, bodies, and resources. Activities like meditation and mindfulness are helpful in learning to listen to your body, acknowledge what it’s telling you, than decide how to respond rather than just reacting.

Of course, a great deal of forgiveness is also needed, as no one is perfect, and we all need a little help along the path to peace. So don’t forget to apply these same behaviors to yourself: speak to yourself nicely, don’t get trapped in the rat race of life, don’t label yourself, and keep that consumption in check!


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