Living for Peace

Pema Chodron on Peace Mostly, I have been silent  on the tragedy in Charleston. I haven’t known what to say.

I want to stand for what I believe. I speak about  understanding the reality of terrorism. I speak up about the travesty of inequality and the inequities in our system.

But I don’t want to be mad at every killer. I don’t want to blame all police or believe that all white people are crazed by their own fear and prejudice.

And my imagination cannot take me to that place where black people abide – in the constant uncertainty for themselves and their children. Yes, in the world we live in, we all know uncertainty. But years of hatred and invalidation are not heaped upon our uncertainty.

My sorrow is deep and yet I work to keep my heart soft. I hear the families of those killed in Charleston as they offer forgiveness. I follow their lead and choose not to live in anger.

I want there to be peace – and not at the expense of any one person or any group, any nation, any religion, any gender…I want peace for all and know that it requires justice. But I am past the days when I can stand on the corner and scream for justice. I can no longer tighten my jaw and clench my fist demanding fairness. Instead, I am crying out for love.

Those who died in Charleston, June 2015
Those who died in Charleston, June 2015

I am weeping for the families in Charleston. I am also weeping for family of the young man so filled with hatred and fear that he was sure that killing would dull the pain of it. I have deep sorrow for policemen who have been killed or who are killing mercilessly and the children who are needlessly killing and being killed. And for the soldiers who offer life and limb and take the same. For all who are on the firing line of violence.

And my heart aches for the fear in all of us – for those of us (or for that part of us) unable to understand and tolerate what is different. I wish for a salve to ease the rash reactions that want to crush what is unfathomable. I live for a time when we can remove our emotional blinders and see each other clearly as living, loving, feeling, hurting, joyful beings in a world that has room for all of us. A world where we are willing to make room.

I remember the victims in Charleston. And each time I hear of a needless death, I remember that, too. I do not distance myself from tragedy. I may be silent, but I pay heed.



  1. Strangely enough, things like this probably have impacted my life in that I won’t find myself in places or situations where something like this could happen. For instance, the people who survived who were there with this kid said they felt something was amiss. I always listen to that voice in my head and I’d have probably left way earlier.

    This might be hard to understand but whenever I’m outside of my house I have the shields up, no matter where I go. The main shield is to be alert for trouble. The secondary shield is waiting for something racial to happen. I’m pretty cautious, even in the mall, because I’m just not that trusting of people I don’t know, even though in general I love people watching. It’s a reason I try not to sit with my back to people and why I always drive; crazy I suppose.

    I hope this event turns into a real conversation other than the confederate flag, although at this juncture I’ll take what I can get.


    • Mitch, Since we have had a murder (serial) in our family, I truly understand your hyper-vigilance and attention to intuitive feelings. It’s difficult to be trustful in a world where random violence occurs.
      I remember visiting the city where my niece was killed and looking at every passerby wondering, “Could you do that? Was it you?”
      What I think is sad and unique to your world view is the necessity of the additional constant shields due to racial issues. Trouble can be anywhere. Serial killers are a small percentage of the population. Unfortunately, racial situations abound. I can assume that you are much more aware of that than I can comprehend.
      Sometimes I get discouraged about the prospect of “conversations” when it feels like the same things are said and the same people aren’t listening or are not capable of understanding. I join you, however, in hoping that the open hearts and minds of all remain receptive in order to truly facilitate change.
      I am encouraged that two of my friends who I would consider the most conservative and most resistant to seeing any difficulties in the status quo were the two who were very moved and impressed by Obama’s eulogy.
      Hope springs eternal in the heart of this optimist.
      Thanks for your insights.
      (Btw, I would not call any of your thoughts or actions crazy. Whatever it takes!)


Agree? Disagree? Have your say...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s