The reason I was up at 4:30 am this morning was to attend a ’20 minutes for peace’ meditation, which was billed as a 20-minute period of silence to take place around the world at noon Greenwich Mean Time. I usually abhor rallies and like activities, but this sounded like something I could handle. I attended as an act of recognition that all I have can be lost, and to recognize that many have experienced this kind of loss of late, whether it be from a Tsunami or a military conflict.
I was surprised to see at least a few hundred people at the event. The ‘silence’ actually contained some flute playing, but I felt pretty good afterward, having contemplated the meaning of peace to me. I was happy to see that so many people cared to do the same. Then a drum began to beat, and a man emerged and performed a song, ‘Advice From a Tree,’ while leading a sort of hokey-pokey-style group dance. A shrill-voiced woman with a guitar followed, leading ‘This Little Light Of Mine’. Ann and I tried to be good-natured and play along, but we resented this push to express ourselves in a way that doesn’t suit us. When we left early, an old man handed us a pamphlet advocating the conversion of Muslims to Christianity, claiming that Muslims don’t grieve the deaths of their loved ones as much as Christians do. We were disgusted.
Peace means something different to everybody. For me, this was an example of the fact that conflict is inherent in the diversity of nature. A world without conflict would also be without diversity. I suppose in such a world everybody would be happy to sing along to the same song. I don’t want that world. I celebrate peace, but as it comes to me, as an emphemeral respite to the intense struggle of existence. A time to detach and appreciate the beauty of our roiling world before diving back into it. A hobo may know peace beneath the stars, but he appeciates it because of the struggle it took to get there.