I know peace.

I see, hear, and feel it whenever I’m around young children.

I am constantly trying to find a personal definition for peace.

I know what it’s not: peace is not the absence of war or fighting. Peace is much more personal than that. Like elation,¬†exhilaration, or contentedness, peace is a state of mind. Peace rises to the surface from deep within our core and fills a moment with serenity. It most certainly can not be imposed upon somebody.

In my experience the peace I know is easily attained. I have yet to see a group of young children hold an international peace summit before getting lost in a painting, or petition for signatures shortly before beginning work on a block tower. The secret to the peace I see is through a process of raw and self-guided experiences.

Ingredients for Peace

Necessities:

  1. A safe space.
  2. The fulfillment of basic needs.
  3. Unconditional love.
  4. The opportunity and time for self-guided activity.

Mix the ingredients above using the recipe below.

Recipe for Peace:

  1. Work and personal development that enriches the person as a whole.
  2. The exploration of a true personal wonder.
  3. Real-life experiences, which may include risk taking, to help find your own strong, calm peaceful core.

As we grow up our lives are filled with responsibilities and deadlines, and we lose the time to engage in self-directed activities in safe spaces. By the time we are adults an hour of pure ‘free time’ is rare. News reports of crime waves, recessions, and impending wars strip away our sense of safety within our community. Whittling away the ingredients for peace means the loss of opportunities to feel peace in our lives.

San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge found that five times more high school students now deal with anxiety or mental health issues than their peers studied during the Great Depression. Everyone from young children to adults can immediately benefit from a simple recipe for experiencing peace.

What can you do?

  1. Join and create organized communities that work together and know each other, in order to foster a safe environment and reduce social isolation.
  2. Protect young children from violent images to create a safe mental space.
  3. Prepare and eat healthy meals to ensure basic dietary needs are met.
  4. Place a higher value on free or unscheduled time for yourself and your family. This can provide families with time to explore self and group-guided interests.

If I desire a more peaceful world I must start with myself. I must afford myself the opportunity of peaceful experiences.

That way I really can say that I know peace.

© Jonathan Iris-Wilbanks and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011
Photos © Haidor Truu and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011