World peace is kind of like Santa Claus; we indulge in the idea when we’re young and naïve, but abandon it as we grow older. Peace has become one of those fluffy ideas only wished upon a star by pageant queens and worn-out hippies. By the time we reach our mid-twenties, most people have accepted that peace is not attainable and goes against our very human nature. I can’t say I blame them. The more I learn about how the world works; about how often the desire for individualistic gain is put before the common good; how the very facets of society that are designed to protect the people, actually manipulate and hurt the people; the more easy it is to lose hope in the good of humanity.
Something to consider about the way humans currently function, is that we are a race of survivors. We are only here because our ancestors were focused on survival through the means of fighting for food, social status and mates. In a time when food was scarce, and viable mates were few and far between, the survival of the species depended on the intense drive to obtain, consume, reproduce and defend. If our ancestors did not think selfishly, act greedily and lustfully, we would not be here today.
We are descendents of these devolved creatures and have inherited their greedy, selfish and lustful dispositions. This isn’t a bad thing; this isn’t a “sinful” thing; this is an evolution thing. Dysfunction exists in our world, because there is gap between what we are evolutionarily programmed to do, and what we are expected to do as civilized human beings. Simply put, our civilization has evolved more quickly than we have. In the developed world, food is infinitely abundant, and “mates” are only one skeezy phone call away. Money is the resource by which we obtain status, and our rate of consumption confirms our rank in the world. This is how we have evolved. This is how we have survived and adapted to our world. But is this what we are meant for?
The difference between us and animals, between us and our humanoid ancestors, is that we are conscious beings. We not only exist on this planet, but we are aware that we exist, and we ponder the very meaning of existence. We have bit the metaphorical apple from the tree of wisdom, and there is no going back. If ignorance is bliss, then maybe that explains why life can be, at times, full of sadness and perpetual unhappiness. The good news is, we do not have to be victim to our evolutionary past; as awakened beings, we are invited to become creators of our evolutionary future. We can choose what we are meant for!
There is no doubt that we are capable of great destruction: to ourselves and to our world. But we are also capable of amazing altruism, empathy and cooperation. I’m not going to pretend that I know all of the answers to remedy the world’s crises. But I know that humanity has inherited the potential for infinite love and wisdom, and I know that peace is possible. It starts within each one of us. Before we can witness the infinite potential of humanity, we need to realize our own.
“Peace comes from within; do not seek it without.” – Buddha