Volume 3, Number 1, 2008
Like a flower, peace blossoms when there is support. A rose endures harsh conditions, yet produces beautiful blooms atop a sturdy stem. People who experience threats to their mental and physical wellbeing have been detracted from violent responses by the support of love. Recognized across spiritual traditions, and evident throughout human history, is the power of love as a proactive response to conflict. Acts borne of desperation are rare in the presence of sincere concern and care.
Love of a perceived enemy, a stranger, or associate has profound effects. It reveals possibilities for problem solving; reactive transformation of violence and proactive prevention of it. Love with care of oneself is the seed of personal peace that enables a person to flourish like a rose. Awareness of love felt by others fertilizes the peace plant that individuals cultivate through their self-care. Individual organizations, as well as people, need expressions of and engagement in processes of love for the cultivation of peace. The effects are crucial for life. They are a foundation for all forms of peace development.
Love of a perceived enemy occurs through deliberate work; identification of unmet needs that resulted with warped perceptions of another. Recognition of all needs facilitates positive perception changes. Focused observation of the ‘other’ enables learning that precedes understanding. Love of another is unconditional, and easiest when there is understanding. The goal of understanding is foremost; understanding self as well as others.
Knowledge about oneself makes possible attentive self-care. Love of oneself occurs through identification of life-sustaining needs, including contexts of contemplation. Creating silence is one common method across cultures of making a context for contemplation. It facilitates mindfulness and allows a focus on healthy breathing; stress reduction. Affirming oneself and others during periods of contemplation communicates love that everyone needs.
Showing love can be done in a multitude of ways, which each culture’s norms influence. Regardless of cultural differences in communicating love, which are fun to learn, there is commonality with the expression of concern for wellbeing. Thoughtful demonstrations of caring are a language of love that all of humanity speaks. As the world becomes more crowded with population density and the associated conflicts of that trend, we stay alert to greater opportunities for showing love with concern. Compassion for and interest in the ‘other’, as well as for those with whom we are affiliated, express love and build peace. Where violence exists, such acts bring about inspiration that peace can exist. While peace workers know there is a plethora of processes for peacemaking, demonstrating love is foremost. Processes associated with love include communication, connection, affirmation, forgiveness, kindness and devotion.
The results of expressed love in a context of conflict, when trusted as sincere, have often been effective in peace development. Some of the many positive effects have included psychological support, inspiration, patience with conflict resolution, persistence with change, as well as mental and physical healing. These responses to love are valuable in peace development. We encourage your documentation of peace through love, as an affirmation as well as for possible sharing with the world through publication here. Thank you for showing and sharing your love. You inspire and sustain us.
Author: Terry Dobson
Author: Sunanda Gandhi
Author: James McGinnis
Author: Sharon Cohen O’Neil
Artist: Timmy Abell
Artist: Donna Frost
Artist: Alana Lea
Artist: Juan Fuentes