Against or For? Perhaps...
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(Editor's Note: This article was originally written at the time of the war with Iraq, however its precepts can be applied to any conflict, whether political or personal.)

I was feeling sad one morning, feeling the state of the world in my heart, and remembering how I felt at 20 after taking a University class entitled 'History of Human Conflict'. At that time, after learning about wars that had been in existence since "forever" it seemed, I asked myself 'Won't mankind ever learn?' And today, many years later, I find myself asking the same question.

I recall a reggae song that speaks of "wars and rumors of war". Looking it up on the internet, I found that it related to a quote from the Bible: And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass... -- Matthew 24:6

Some have asked me why InnerSelf had not written about the Iraq war at the time it was taking place. My response is that we have addressed it: we have written about peace -- as we always do -- peace within our hearts, peace with our families, co-workers, neighbors, and peace with all. The challenge in these times is remaining loving and peaceful in our hearts.

One can be for peace without spouting hate and anger. It is hard to be against war and do the same. As soon as we become "against" something, we ourselves become warlike -- us against them, we're right and they're wrong, we're good and they're bad, were better than them, etc.

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Choosing To Be "For" Something, Not "Against"

I choose to be for peace, for love, for cooperation, for healing, for unity, for oneness, for equality, for justice, for fairness, for a better world. Being against only focuses the energies on that which we don't want. We need to focus on what we desire: a peaceful loving world. Some of us may be feeling discouraged at our inability to "change the world". Yet, the change must begin with us.

"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me" is a song and prayer used a lot in new thought circles. I find myself humming it a lot. This is a useful theme even for those who choose to be "for war" (seeing it as, perhaps, a "necessary evil"). Hopefully they are at the same time "for peace" -- and this song or mantra can help us see peace as a necessary path to walk (not just to talk or hope for). Peace is not simply a goal to be attained in the future -- it is the path we must walk in the present.

I have been forwarded an email (several times in past years) asking people to boycott the Oscars. There again, I believe we are missing the big picture (in more ways than one). The celebrities who expressed their wish for peaceful resolutions to the "Iraq situation" (or other controversial situations since then) are simply saying they want peace -- they want innocent people to have a chance at life -- they want us to be healers not destroyers.

They are saying they want people to live -- whether those people are in the American military or whether they are innocent civilians of Iraq. They are not "against" anyone's sons or daughters who are in the military. They are simply saying that we need to find peaceful resolutions, to focus on building a world that cares about all its children (American or not, soldier or civilian), rather than destruction of the lives of children and adults.

I Am For Peace. I Am For Love

I am for everyone on the planet having a chance to create happiness and wholeness for themselves. I am for personal responsibility. I am for, not against. Perhaps if we examine our lives more closely, and see where we need to be "for" something rather than "against", then we can start making a difference.

Even within the United States (as well as in other countries) there are huge situations that need healing. Perhaps if we admitted our own ineptitude rather than focus on that of others, we could start making a difference. The USA is the unrivaled leader in divorce rates worldwide (as per the National Center for Health Statistics). We have a very high incidence of homelessness (especially for such a rich country), we are still a racist society, we have a increasing disparity between the rich and the poor, etc. etc. Right here in this country and in our own homes, there are many issues that need healing, that need love, that need our personal caring and attention. And whatever country you live in, there also are issues that need addressing and healing.

As humans, we tend to focus on the externals. We have so many "reality shows" now -- yet what are we doing about our own reality? We focus on "other people's reality" --- whether that be on TV reality shows or other TV programming, on the movie stars' personal lives, or the latest gossip about this one or that one, or the reality of people living in other countries. We are concerned about other people's actions, when we need to be more concerned about our own actions -- and reactions, and inactions.

Choosing to be FOR Positive Change

We need to be for change -- starting within our own heart -- to be more caring, kind and loving individuals and to be a more caring, kind, and loving family. Then we can focus on spreading that caring, kindness, and love around us -- wherever we see the need for it. Not by judging and condemning, but by observing and then offering a helping hand and a caring heart whenever and wherever we can.

What I hope will come from any war or conflict is a more compassionate and loving heart -- for everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, their country of origin, their race, their actions or inaction, their opinions or beliefs. Many died in this war -- as in all the wars before this one -- even the war to end all wars (which one was that again? oh, yes, World War I). Yes, many will suffer. Yes, many will cry in pain and sorrow.

Perhaps if we can all start feeling the pain and sorrow of the multitudes on the planet who are suffering -- whether they live in our household or our country, or are starving and dying in a Third World country. Perhaps if we open our hearts to the people in our lives and to the people on the planet, and move away from motivations of fear and greed, perhaps then we can see that we need to be "for" not "against" -- for creating a better life on earth for everyone, whether they are playing the role of the good, the bad, or the ugly.


If someone has resorted to a life of crime because they are poor, then perhaps if they were no longer poor, they would have no need to resort to crime.

Perhaps if someone has resorted to terrorism because they see the US actions as unjust and greedy and colonialist, then perhaps if we change our actions, then there will be no cause for terrorism.

If someone is homeless because they have no place to live and no paying job, then perhaps if we spend our tax money on education, on creating jobs, and on building low-income housing, then perhaps we can reduce the incidence of homelessness.

If children are turning to crime and drugs and sex because of a need for attention, perhaps if we provide love and attention so they don't have to resort to violence to get it, then there will be no reason for them to seek negative attention.

There are many things that could be better is we, perhaps, did things differently, with love and compassion in our hearts, instead of wanting to judge and punish.

Healing and change must start at the root of the problem. As teenagers know when pimples keep popping up, it is not by attacking one pimple at a time that one can make a permanent difference. The solution lies in addressing the root of the problem with nutrition, lifestyle, and avoiding the poisons we put on our body (in the guise of makeup and perfume), etc. Another analogy that comes to mind: If your shoes are too tight, you can get rid of the pain by taking pain medication but it would be best to address the issue by wearing shoes that fit properly -- then there would be no need for the pain medication.

In the same way, the way to "solve the problems" of the world is by addressing the cause, not by trying to eradicate the symptoms -- the symptoms will keep popping up if the cause is not addressed. Anger, violence and terrorism are not the creation of one person -- they cannot be eradicated by the death of one person. Poverty is not resolved by dropping loads of food, but by addressing the cause of the anger, the cause of the poverty and starvation.

The solution is to increase the love in our hearts for everyone -- whether we like them or not, whether we agree with them or not. By applying more love, more caring, more compassion, and more healing, then we can create the world we desire.

And let us all remember, that even if someone is for war and for dissent, they can still be for peace. Being for war doesn't mean being against peace. Please remember to choose to be for peace, even if you're feeling angry and upset -- right here and right now. We can choose to carry peace in our hearts, in our thoughts, in our day-to-day actions. Once peace and compassion reside in our hearts, then our actions change, and thus we contribute to creating peace on earth for everyone.

Related Book:

You Can Make It Heaven: How to Enrich Your Life with Abundance and Loving
by Rebecca Skeele.

You Can Make It Heaven by Rebecca Skeele.Heaven is an Inside Job! No need to look to the ‘world’ for lasting fulfillment, abundance, loving and freedom. Your experience of heaven exists inside of you – beyond your ‘story’; your negative habitual mind chatter; and your fears that keep you imprisoned in an inner hell.This down-to-earth manual provides all the spiritual power tools you will need to tap into your Divine Nature, break free of constricting illusions, and transform your relationship to: loved ones, finances, career, health and more.This second edition also includes new material: The Seven Keys to Make Your Life a Heaven*Heaven Is…*You Don’t need Fixing, You Need Loving*Wake up from the Knock on the Door*Get to Know your True Self*Create a Safe Place Within*Unmask Fear*Make Different ChoicesAs you clear the inner clutter your heaven will emerge. Then life comes alive in new and fresh ways. 

Info/Order this book (different cover, new edition)

About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

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