26 Jun 2022

Work for peace urges Offaly influencer


Ronan Scully of Self Help Africa

Our world is full of hurting families and nations torn apart by war and violence. Nearly two billion people, about one-third of the world’s population, live in countries with conflict, violence, or fragile internal systems, according to the UN.

These are places with the greatest humanitarian needs, where children, families, and communities struggle to acquire the basic necessities of life. One of my most abiding wishes and prayers that I say daily is, "may we all live in peace together." I light one of my daily candles for that prayer to come true constantly. We have seen what peace can do for people in Northern Ireland. But you only have to watch the news or read the papers to find conflict and suffering in every corner of our world and especially in Ukraine, Yemen, Tigray, Myanmar and Syria at this present time.

Look also at what has happened recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, America, Mali, Ethiopia and Libya to name a few of the obvious ones that have been shown by the various media. The causes may seem complex, but I believe the root of much of it is one group trying to impose its will on another and in some cases one person trying to control the many. The motives may be political, religious, greed or racism, but it amounts to the same thing. One group sees itself as 'right' and others as 'wrong'. Religion and politics are often used to justify such claims.

Another thing I often think to myself is that it is ironic that the objective of war is to create peace!  In order to have a better, more peaceful world we must learn to think of the globe as a whole. Our world leaders need to be more selfless and sacrificing. Only by having a universal, peaceful and spiritual vision can we bring positive change into the political and world field.

A person who is really interested in making positive changes will never resort to violence to effect political reform. The approach has to be non-violent and peaceful. Anything achieved through violence will not last long; it will leave an enemy sitting somewhere plotting against you. If instead, you make a friend, you need not be afraid of the other person; and he or she need not be afraid of you. Permanent peace can never be achieved by violent means.

Remember, there is no power higher than love. Hatred breeds hatred; violence breeds violence. If we sincerely want world peace, we have to depend on our soul force, not on anything else. When our efforts fail, when we have nothing else, then we think of a Higher Power and turn to that force.

And that is what soul force is; that is what prayer is all about. Mahatma Gandhi was a great example of this principle. He demonstrated that, by being a peaceful activist and trusting in soul power, one could liberate an entire country. That is how India gained her independence. Mahatma Gandhi, U Thant, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others were great humanitarians in public life. We need more people like these to lead and inspire and we all need to work for peace in  our world and in our lives.

A Peaceful World

It seems to me that the only way we will ever achieve a peaceful world is if we resist the urge to impose our beliefs on someone who does not want to share them. We must accept everyone’s right to follow their own path but also keeping in mind with rights and freedoms comes responsibilities. We must accept that all life matters and that all life is sacred. We must accept that there will always be those who hold different beliefs and follow different paths to our own. Learn to respect people 'as they are' and put differences aside. 'Agree to disagree'. This does not mean we cannot state our views or that people must be held responsible for their actions.

With rights comes responsibilities for those rights and freedoms. But it does mean I will not impose anything on anyone who is not interested and it means that I can accept, respect and share with those who hold different beliefs from me without feeling the need to impose my ideas upon them. This world can be a dark place as we have seen over the past year or so. News reports of shootings, innocent lives being lost too soon, terrorist attacks, so many children's lives lost needlessly, unrest, racism and struggle are constant reminders that we live in uncertain and evil times. Many times we wonder, is finding peace in the midst of all this even possible? One quote reminds us, “Peace. It doesn't mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” Another says, "No God, no peace. Know God, know peace." And both are true. Without knowing the perfect peace and calm assurance of God Himself in this crazy, mixed up and sometimes very evil world, we will live forever struggling to gain control, always finding ourselves in the inner battle with stress, anxiety and evil. Yet focusing on God’s words can bring life to our souls, no matter what swirls around us on any given day. He is able to bring security, so we're not overcome with fear, or find ourselves sinking down into a pit of worry and despair. He's the answer to our place of refuge. We can never fully escape all the mess this world may bring to our lives or our way at times. We sometimes live in a fallen, broken and evil place. But in the midst of what life deals us, we can remain steadfast and strong by living a peace-filled life which comes down to a choice. Choosing to come to God in prayer and to believe that He's always with us and in control, choosing to set our thoughts on those things that are good, kind, just, caring, loving, forgiving, merciful, true and right.
God reminds us in His word that peace will not naturally just come our way, He tells us to, “seek peace and pursue it,” Ps. 34:14. You see, the peace God offers is vastly different from getting away from it all on holidays and escaping our environment and place of work. It's lasting. Confident. Real. Breathing deep reassurance in the midst of all that we face whether it is past, present, or future. Rising up against the fear that would seek to choke our lives. Bringing comfort and freedom. God's words give strength, purpose and grace. They alone are what can bring inner calm at times to a whirlwind crazy mindless and evil world. As usual a story from my Nana Scully's prayer book might help to explain.

Peace Picture

"There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. When the entries were in, the king looked at all the pictures. There were only two he really liked. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, with four peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. The other picture had mountains too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. It did not look peaceful at all. However, when the king looked, he saw a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock behind the waterfall. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest, perfectly at peace. The king chose the second picture, because, he said, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
We often look at the outside world and find it in a state of chaos and disorder. We cannot bring to the world that which we do not have to offer. Peace starts in our own minds and heart, and until its roots are firmly entrenched in our own selves, we cannot manifest it externally. Peace starts with you. Ordinary citizens can make a difference. When’s the last time you said sorry? Think about who loses when you win. Are the people around you heard and respected or marginalized, ignored and left out? Make a decision to care about what happens to them. Start a constructive conversation with someone you disagree with. Challenge ‘them-and-us’ thinking in yourself as well as in others. Every one of us can choose to make our world more just and peaceful, or more unjust and warlike. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.’ I pray that all of us will put working at peace to the forefront of our lives for the betterment of the lives of our children and their children because if we don't God only knows what type of evil world will befall them.

Thought for the Week

As your thought for the week, look at ways you can bring real, lasting and genuine peace into your own life and the lives of those around you. As Mother Teresa said, "The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace." If peace is what you seek, focus your thoughts on this prayer for peace today and everyday called "On This Day"

"On this day mend a quarrel, search out a forgotten friend, dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust, write a love letter, share some treasures, give a soft answer, encourage youth, care for our elderly. Manifest your loyalty in a word, prayer or deed, keep a promise, find the time, forego a grudge, forgive an enemy, listen, pray, meditate, apologise if you were wrong, try to understand, flout envy, examine your demands on others, think first of someone else, appreciate, be kind, be gentle, laugh a little more, deserve confidence. take up arms against malice, decry complacency, express your gratitude, strive and pray for peace, worship your God, gladden the heart of a child, take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth, speak your love, speak your peace, speak it again, speak it still again, speak it still once again. speak love and peace always. Amen"

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.