Peace: Finding the light within yourself
The conversation of a Philosopher, a Politician and an Average Man on a Bus
“I imagine that true peace feels like the first ray of sunshine after a rainy day.” The politician grimaced at this poetic view of the philosopher. He countered saying, “Peace is something we have to work for. It is a negotiation.” The philosopher replied hastily cutting off the politician, “True peace comes naturally and eternally. It is not hard work at all.” Then my subdued voice mumbled, “Perhaps peace is just what we make of it, both an internal state and an external state. Peace for me is in the internal realization that my dreams have a chance at reality, and in the external understanding that my family is happy and safe at home.”
I sat silently listening to the roar of the bus engine and so did the other two men in my presence. They looked at me, almost nudging me with their stares to speak on. “I cannot speak for the world, but I can speak for myself and my community. When the very ground you are standing on shakes, when your little world crumbles around you, your heart weeps and all peace of mind is lost. As my family and I soaked in rain in an open field, fearing that our small house would collapse with the slightest tremor, in the earthquake that struck my nation, Nepal on April 25, 2015, we experienced a debilitating loss of peace. ‘Let not the tiger in your heart eat you alive’ goes a saying in my tiny nation, so we tried to be resilient and rebuild what had been lost, not just the buildings but peace.”
“I was scared for my relatives, who lived in old ancestral homes, worn by the tides of time.
The place where I first learnt to ride a bicycle with my father was now deemed haunted; the site of death of a whole family crushed by their own house.
I cried as the temples, palaces and monuments; heritages which I took great pride over were nothing but rubble now.
I was not at peace, I felt helpless. How many days would we spend in the fields, and huddle? But my loss of peace was nothing compared to that of countless children left orphaned, women widowed or the families in the hill town of Gorkha; the town of brave soldiers; a whole town ravaged by the earthquake.”
I pointed to the road on which we travelled, still dilapidated after the earthquake and the countless tenants in make shift tin homes. They were covered in a cloud of dust as our bus passed by.
The philosopher looked at me with benevolence and then to the majestic panorama of mountains, hills and flatlands from the window. He said in a calming tone,
“Be at peace with the world and your surroundings
Bereft of desire for materialistic things
Help others in need, let the hatred cease
You will find eternal peace.”
“I agree with you.” I interjected. “I grew frustrated during the time of the earthquake then finally realized that only you can build peace in your own heart and mind; yet this peace building journey travels through the hearts and minds of many others. I was not able to volunteer at the time. My parents could not be at peace if their only child was not in their sights during these hard times. My impending grade twelve examination also prevented me from volunteering. So I drew and wrote poetry to release the unrest in my heart. I helped the elderly cross the streets. I smiled more, hoping others would do the same. I posted my art, hoping that I could help in my own little way, however insignificant it may be. It gave me some peace.”
We passed by a protest program. Two opposing political groups were hurling stones at each other. The politician glanced at the morning paper, as if to gain some inspiration.
“Your experiences speak on a national level, but look around the world and you will see that war has brought greater tragedy.” The politician cleared his throat and continued,
“Will the quarreling nations ever feel hunger?
Like their helpless denizens do
Suffering death, eating on a ration
Can war truly bring glory to a nation?
War rages on in this world. Religion divides us. Color divides us. Race divides us.”
When unrest strikes, it does not say creed, color, class or religion. Yet wars start and crimes exacerbate on the basis of these differences. I knew that these differences didn’t divide us, but paved the path for unit in diversity.” My Muslim neighbors did not hesitate to help my family nor did mine in the face of disaster. When we lay under plastic sheets during the earthquake, our Muslim neighbors offered us tea to warm our souls. My cowherd neighbors were poor, but of large hearts and offered extra blankets to my mother. The rich and poor were all forced to take shelter under the open sky. We found peace in communion.”
The politician was quick to retort counter, “It is through diplomatic aid that we were able to rise from the rubble; aid which we received beyond our borders. We are still divided by borders.”
“The unsettled hearts of my people found peace in knowing that the sisters and brothers of the world stood by us. It is in this humanitarian spirit, benevolence and sense of duty shown by these brothers and sisters that I see true peace, permeating beyond borders and encompassing the world.”
“Do you expect human emotions alone to establish stable peace? Humanity and benevolence have their place. But it is the tangible treaties of peace, organizations and politics that form the true core of peace. When schools reopen, when houses are rebuilt, when fear is gone, when wounds are healed, when safety is ensured, when rule of law prevails, when science aids not hinders, when happiness is a right not a privilege, then the indomitable folk will know true peace again. Peace is objective” The conviction of the politician was evident.
The philosopher curved his lips slightly into a gentle smile and spoke, “You believe in objective peace; a lack of war. But your sentiments and emotions cannot be suppressed. You spoke about happiness as a right. Happiness is not objective. It is subjective and varies. It is a human emotion which blossoms under the nurturing shade of peace. I find peace in meditation while a singer may find peace in music. Hence, peace is subjective. ”
I couldn’t fully agree with either of the gentlemen. “Peace is a combination of objective reality and subjective emotions. You sway in the extremities, when peace lies in the middle road. We cannot rely on fate or on others. We are the architects of the peace we seek; we are the sentinels of the peace we build. We need to find the light within ourselves”
The politician nodded his head and the philosopher gazed in agreement. It was the end of our conversation as the bus had reached the destination. “I need to find the light within myself” I mumbled, with a sense of new found purpose as I got off the bus.
Subij Shakya Receiving his certificate and prize from Sudha Subedi, CEO of Youth Legend
Question and Answer with Subij
1.What do you feel after being one of the winners of Wordism Final?
–> I am ecstatic and honored to be awarded the title of ‘Wordism Hero’. It feels gratifying to be recognized for your efforts. This has reignited my passion for writing.
2.What do you think about wordism competition?
–> The wordism competition is an excellent platform for writers. It allows young writers to develop and showcase their talent.
3.Anything you want to say to those reading this?
–> Endeavour to be positive and passionate. We often lose our essence in the hectic commotion of life. So, focus on your goals and your passion.
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