International Day of Peace Speech 2020
Transcript from Peace Day Speech in Durango, CO
Thank you all for coming out today in recognition of this International Day of Peace. We are SEEDS, the School for Ecocentric Evolution & Design Strategies. I’m Alia and I’m Hayden and we are honoured to gather in this way to explore what it means to shape peace together; what it means to plant the seeds of a future world rooted in interconnection, mutuality, and an enduring love for life.
Although it is beautiful to come together in this way, the fact that we have to set a specific day to ask for peace, should reveal to us the tremendous scope of the problem we collectively face. It should be the norm, not the exception, to experience peacefulness as a way of life. Peace, if it is to be enduring, must arise from within. It is a state of being rooted in the knowing of our interconnection and sourced by a somatic experience of trust, faith, connection, belonging, reciprocity and harmony with all elements of life itself.
The hard truth is that we are far from this knowing; we have become lost in a collective story of separation and competition, hyper-consumption and collective denial. The values and incentives of our predominant culture necessarily manufacture the violence, oppression, extraction, dehumanization, and collective neuroses that form the foundation and perpetuate our industrial growth society. We have been infected with an egocentric separate-self worldview that ingeniously blinds us to the ways that we are all complicit in the violent nature of our world. If world peace is to no longer remain just an aspirational dream, it must be grown through the difficult task of individual and collective maturation. We must each reclaim our projections on “others” as the problem, we must take responsibility for the manifested world around us, and we must do the brave work of leaning into the truth of our current collective experience.
When we pause long enough to really feel into our current collective experience, peace is likely not the predominant feeling that arises. Instead, we are likely besieged with feelings of pain and confusion, worry and fear, anger, grief, and loneliness. While the relative reality of this shared collective moment is often one of suffering, we believe that a deeper invitation lies within this experience for all of us.
If we wish to shape a world of peace, then we must learn to turn toward the pain, make space for the suffering, consult with the fear, and grieve the isolation. We must welcome these emotions as messengers, informing us that all is not well in ourselves and our world. What if we could thank these emotions for revealing to us the profound cost of living in intergenerational disconnection from the earth and each other?
Because inherent in the collective suffering of our time is a knowing that another way of being is not only possible, but is actively calling us forward. For if this current human experience of competition and scarcity, separation and consumption was all that we as a species were capable of, then surely we would not be plagued with this aching sense that something is deeply wrong. If this current reality were all that we were designed to imagine or create on this earth, then surely we would not feel this nagging absence, spiritual lack, or fervent yearning to take part in something so much more.
In this way, our emotional distress can be seen as a sacred gift of these times, here to awaken us to the suffering of a people out of balance who yearn deeply to participate in the great work of their times. When we slow down enough to feel into this suffering, and the profound love for life that sources this suffering, we may begin to remember the uniquely vital role that is ours alone to play in shaping a world that is far more beautiful, harmonized, inclusive, and peaceful for all beings.
For it is clear that our emotional suffering is directly related to the suffering of all beings. We know, deep in our bones, that we are part of an interconnected web of life. This is an ancient knowing, which modern science is just not catching up with. This knowing reminds us that true freedom is not possible for us while our human brothers and sisters are exploited and dehumanized; that we cannot fully thrive while ecosystems collapse across the globe.
And so it is time for us to throw off the chains of the old story of separation, which has kept us disconnected and numb for far too long. It is time to liberate our hearts and free our minds to the truth of our interconnection, the miracle of our interbelonging, the possibility of returning home to ourselves, each other, and the earth as our one true home and family. If we wish to know peace, then let us take our rightful place within the family of all things.
Nothing short of the birth of a collective meaning, a truly human identity, a shared why that honors all of our unique individuality and yet unites us under a common purpose will sprout this seed of peace and create the viable conditions for that peace to root itself and grow into the world. We must all come to remember that we are life itself, gifted this human experience of life from life and invited to serve a role in the evolutionary unfoldment and expression of life into the future.
You and I, and everything around us is an emergent property of relationship, our entire being is a non-thing without this magnificent earth container in which we exist and all its organisms that through deep relationship have created the viable landscape for our conscious human experience to emerge. The very seed of our existence lies in that first evolutionary movement some 13 billion years ago and we are an emergent result of that first movement. We are life awakened to itself, inside itself, standing at this moment of time at the edge of this collective evolutionary journey. We have been born out of billions of years of complex organization, collaboration, experimentation, and intuitive intelligence; gifted with the capacity to imagine, to gaze into the future, and co-create new possibilities for future life and consciousness to experience.
So what world do we want to create? Is it not a world that fosters, nurtures, and values each of our unique gifts? Is not a world that knows itself to be interwoven with life, in service to life’s diverse, creative, and continuous expression? Is it not a world filled with meaning; a world that reaches out way beyond the narrow self destructive confines of our current consumerist society? Is it not a world that honors the future ones as much as those who live now; a world that works to grow a continuously richer healthier landscape of experience for the ones who come after us? Is not a world in which peace naturally emerges like a blossoming flower whose seeds have found the right conditions to grow and thus grows itself into the world?
Peace, if it is to truly come, will be the result of the transformational and healing work we choose to take up now. As the visionary poet Wendell Berry reminds us, “This is no paradisal dream, its hardship is its possibility.”