How can conscious shifts in attitude move us from pro-military to pro-peace?
A few months ago, my little brother picked me up from the airport for the holidays. To say that we’re opposites might be an understatement. I was just returning from a trip to India, where I studied yoga and chanted in Sanskrit. He’s halfway through a criminal justice degree at the University of Central Florida. He does not chant in Sanskrit. Naturally, we got to talking about what he’ll do when he graduates. He mentioned his interest in joining the military.
I feel strongly that as an intelligent young man with education and options, he should move direct them toward a future where war is not a reality. Can he do this as part of an organization like the military that perpetuates violence? (Please understand; I respect every single man and woman currently serving in the armed forces. This is not an anti-military rant so much as an anti-complacency question).
I simply must ask if there is a better way to serve our society? How can he use his education for a career that challenges the status quo of our very civilization?
My brother has the opportunity to be a part of a peaceful evolution.
I define peaceful evolution as a chance, an opportunity and an attitude that one can adopt which acknowledges each individual’s responsibility to contribute to our gradual change from a civilization based on conflict and greed, to one based in peace and cooperation.
Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras fully acknowledge our mind’s power to create change. They advise us to create peaceful and serene thoughts as a breeding ground of that kind of reality (Sutra 1.33). By joining an organization like the military, would his reality be permeated by an organization that perpetuates violence as much as it creates security? Or perhaps, if attitudes of peace are continually cultivated, even one in the military would have the opportunity and take the responsibility to make steps away from war.
Whether in the military or not, I believe that people in our generation have the opportunity to be a part of this peaceful evolution of our civilization and really, of our species. All young men and women, regardless of education and options, can move toward a future where war is not a reality. We have power as young people. Real power. I’m not talking about the power to vote for politicians, who time and time again, no matter what their party allegiance, show us the same, tired policies. I’m talking about the power to choose to be part of peace. Part of a generation that moves humanity toward non-violence and to a world where militaries are no longer needed in the same capacity as we see them today.
Now, one can certainly argue that this is unrealistic in many ways, and unfortunately I agree. I do not expect to see a war-free society in my lifetime. War and colonialism are deeply rooted concepts in our psyche. But my opinion is that we should learn from, not judge, our parents and grand-parents generations. We don’t have to sit aside and allow the policies and practices of our predecessors to present the only option for our future.
I believe that we must make the conscious choice to move our civilization toward peace, and away from this power, colonialism and capitalism. We can each make small contributions toward a collective consciousness that values peace.
What if the countries of the world had no militaries? Or, what if militaries existed in a different way? What if there was nothing to fight against…how can we use our thoughts and attitudes to evolve toward that reality?
There are amazing organizations tackling this question right now. International Day of Peace dares to imagine an entire day of cease-fire. And if they can encourage even the most extreme terrorists to take a day off for peace, the possibility of a peaceful evolution can’t be far behind.
What other actions and stances can or should we make in order to evolve peacefully?