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26 April 2007

Visions of a better world

In her final blog, Maureen describes how inner peace is the way to a peaceful planet

By Maureen Goodman

When I listen to news broadcasts I look out for the bits of goodness or heroic acts that sometimes creep in. They are very few. Yet I know that there are many good people in the world doing wonderful things to help humanity. It may be on a large scale, such as coordinating relief operations. These may be on a small scale, such as becoming a full time carer for an ailing relative. When most people just want to live peaceful lives and do good, how come our world has become what it is today?

One of the things I have come to learn through understanding and applying spiritual principles in my life is: whatever is within is reflected without. The inner state of human beings creates the outer state of the world. This seems like a cliché, yet when I look at it in relation to everyday experience, it rings very true.

In the year 2000, I was involved in activities to celebrate the International Year for a Culture of Peace. The Brahma Kumaris collected tens of millions of signatures worldwide for ‘Manifesto 2000’. This looked at peace as a culture of values. Which values and whose values? Values that belong to all of us: respect for life, non-violence, sharing with others, listening to understand, sustainability and solidarity. Living by our values makes for a peaceful world. The catch is that values have to be lived at every moment of our lives, even the most private. It is easy to display positive values with people we love and respect, but what about those who do not share the same outlook as I do or who hurt me through their behaviour?

Violence in any form begets violence; this is true in a family argument or in conflict between nations. Due to the massive publicity machines at work and the general insecurity that people are facing economically and socially, the cycle of violence is more pronounced than ever. Values are forgotten when issues of identity and pride are at stake. We strengthen our values by experiencing our inherent goodness, our spirituality. We weaken our values when that is forgotten.

The strength to live our values honestly and consistently comes through our relationship with God. We may ask, “Where is God with all the sorrows of the world?” but we must first ask ourselves, “Where is God in my day-to-day life?”

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It is time to focus on spiritual solutions. The power of prayer can heal my body, positive thoughts and outlook can heal my relationships, positive words can empower and noble actions can give hope and inspiration. The world now needs ordinary people to lead the way. I find in my work that many people are of the same mind.

In the 1930’s, Brahma Baba, the founder of the Brahma Kumaris, had a vision of a world where spirituality was a way of life. In the 1990’s, as part of our work as an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, we coordinated a project called ‘Global Cooperation for a Better World,’ which took place in 129 countries. We asked people simply to share their vision of a better world. Across all levels of social strata – princes and prime ministers, aboriginal elders in central Australia, shoe-shine boys in Brazil and lepers in the Philippines – people all over the world wanted a world based on values such as peace, love, respect, joy and truth. (These visionary statements were published in 1993 in ‘Visions of a Better World’.

Last September we launched just-a-minute at Wembley Arena in London. It is an initiative encouraging people to incorporate regular one-minute silence breaks into their busy lives so as to re-connect with their core self, strengths and values. just-a-minute has had an overwhelming response. The launch event alone was attended by 10,000 people and over 30 million connected in a minute of positive silence for the world through TV, radio and simultaneous events in 120 countries world-wide. It was an incredibly moving and inspiring demonstration of the growing recognition of the power of inner peace.

In the Brahma Kumaris we have the slogan ‘when we change, the world changes.’ If we wish to create a world of peace, this is truly the only way. It has never been a majority that has changed the world; it has always been just a small group of committed individuals who have made a major impact on history. The transformation of the minority reaching the point of critical mass will shift the majority and create a culture of peace.

When there is peace within, peace in the world is not impossible.