Tranquil Amidst Turmoil

There are broadly three reasons why people disturb peace in their environment by indulging in extreme violence and killing.

1. Emotional Imbalance 

People who are disturbed themselves due to a mental or emotional imbalance often resort to an extreme act like going on a shooting spree. Such acts are expressions of a severe personality disorder and are usually one-off isolated cases. In order to prevent such events, it is necessary that we maintain a healthy emotional environment in society. Having a supportive and stress-free atmosphere in schools and colleges is vital and teachers have a crucial role to play towards this. Encouraging children to make new friends and providing them a multi-cultural education will broaden their vision towards life and safeguard them from harboring unnecessary prejudices while growing up. If they are taught yoga and meditation, they will have the tools to wash away any emotional stress long before it becomes harmful to themselves or others. Community initiatives like service projects or festivals where people meet each other also promote a sense of belongingness and this feeling of togetherness in society protects it from such untoward incidents.

2. Ideology:

Many times people who feel very passionately for a cause feel justified in adopting violent means in its pursuit. These are good people who end up making a wrong choice due to circumstances or incorrect understanding. They are driven by a sense of righteousness, though misplaced and their commitment to their cause is commendable. If approached in the right way, they are open to dialogue to resolve differences. When I visited Latin America in June this year, I sent a message to meet with the leaders of a Colombian rebel group, FARC. They responded positively and we had a very fruitful meeting in Cuba. I impressed on them that in their five-decade-old conflict, both the sides were victims and that non-violence was the only way towards social justice. They immediately declared that they would adopt the Gandhian way and soon declared ceasefire. The Colombian government also reciprocated with a ceasefire from their side.

In India too, we have been meeting many extremist groups over the years and working to build bridges and rehabilitate them in mainstream society. In fact, many of our free tribal schools in terrorist-affected regions are being run by former extremists. In the beginning, they threatened our volunteers to close them down but when they saw that these efforts were benefiting their own communities, they became volunteers themselves.

3. Religious fanaticism 

When people become utterly blinded by their beliefs, then instead of offering or seeking solutions, they see destruction as the only way. For them, violence is not a means to an end, violence is the means and the end. In their doctrine, people who think differently or do not believe in their scripture do not even have a right to exist. On my visit to Iraq in November, 2014, I offered to have a dialogue with the Islamic State group; they responded with a death threat! If even a small part of the world lives in such darkness, the world cannot be a safe place. The mass influx of refugees fleeing from countries under the influence of IS has impacted Europe in the immediate term, but it is a global concern. If the neighbour’s house is on fire, it is only a matter of time before the fire reaches your own doorstep. To counter this, religious leaders can play a big role in imparting a multi-religious education and an education in peace. There is a need to bring a shift from the idea of “sole ownership of heaven” to an ideology of “many paths to One Goal”. Honoring diversity as an essential characteristic of our planet can help us move from mere tolerance of the other to celebrating with others.

When disturbance becomes overwhelming, one begins to value peace. Disturbance at any level – individual, societal, national or global, affects us directly or indirectly. We cannot hope to be tranquil ourselves amidst turmoil all around and yet we must not let that turmoil affect our own tranquility. On this Peace Day, let us resolve to find our own peace inside and then take responsibility to bring peace outside.

Courtsey :