Consider that the apostle of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi died a violent death on January 30th, at the hands of a deranged fanatic. Sadly, today violence has become a way of solving problems. Gandhiji promoted a peaceful personal and communal life, where needs were minimal and easily met. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient peaceful ashram and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha and ate simple vegetarian food to avoid harm to all living creatures.
Today, it is difficult to enjoy a peaceful environment. The growing modern malaise that effects everyone, is anger and even rage. From school children who commit suicide because they did not get good grades, to housewives who are bored out of their wits after having brought up their children and are now at a loose end, because neither the kids or husband have time for them. These feelings are a threat to peace. Today, 400 million people worldwide are afflicted by mental illness. There is a recent Chinese study that shows that among the extremely wealthy, suicide was the cause of 23.6 percent of deaths between 2008-2010. Needing the help of alcohol or sleeping tablets tells the inside story of material success. The true definition of happiness could be, ‘a good nights’ sleep, every night.’ The single minded pursuit of money, can cut out all other sources of wealth – restful sleep, good digestion, health, family, sports, music, books and friends.
What worries me is the way more and more people are choosing inappropriately aggressive ways of dealing with conflict. A 21 year old Oscar Ramino Osteya shot at the White House, hoping to kill President Barrack Obama. He said he was “agitated about the Federal government!” A Korean teenager killed his mother for expecting higher grades and hid her body in the bedroom for eight months. The anger we see on the roads is disquieting.
We need to reduce conflict and develop positive emotions like love, compassion, courage, laughter and wonder in out lives. And work at uprooting negative emotions like anger, lust, greed and jealousy. What the sad world needs it an attitude of giving. The fastest way to be happy is to help others.
How to develop a peaceful neighbourhood?
• Make friends with your neighbours
• Help families to get together to plant trees or improve garbage collection
• Arrange for kids to play together.
• Start a walking club
• Arrange to support people during tough times.
‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ says an old proverb. Create that village on your street or building.