Some thoughts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
War is the ultimate expression of accumulated individual and
collective ‘negative’ emotions such as anger, fear, bitterness,
resentment, regret, anxiety and insecurity. Such emotions trigger the
well-known ‘fight or flight' reaction, which we are currently
witnessing on our screens at this historic moment in time.
In this state, reason often goes out the window and we say and do
things which, in a calmer state of mind, we would never dream of.
The primitive survival mechanism from the past rules our heads and
heart and all the accumulated wisdom and lessons learned by
different civilisations go out the window.
No one in their right mind would willingly want to kill innocent
children, women and men, destroy homes and communities, bomb
hospitals and schools, blow up electricity and water supplies and
create a tidal wave of refugees.
This is, of course, not a new story. In the last century alone, over 200
million deaths were caused by war and oppression.* However, the
stakes are so much higher today due to nuclear proliferation and
other weapons of mass destruction and the ever-greater
interdependence of us all living in a global economy.
As we stand on the precipice of another world war, it feels like we
have entered the last chance saloon. Fate, or the drama of life, is
giving us an opportunity to stop, reflect and find other ways of
resolving conflict before it is too late. We cannot afford to carry on
behaving in the ways that we have always done. Meeting violence
with violence just increases the intensity of the flames of anger and
the desire for revenge. So what do we do and where do we go? It is
time to retreat from the well-trodden path of death and destruction
and choose another path.
In life, we cannot always control what is happening but we can
choose our response because there is always more than one way of
handling any situation. So, following this premise, if one country is
threatened, or attacked by another, conflict and war are not
inevitable. There are other choices we can make.
Being aware of this possibility opens up the path to empowerment
and peace, collectively and personally.
The word ‘peace’ can create a feeling of ennui because it has been
talked about for millennia but is rarely practised. It can be seen as an
impossible ideal for the religiously inclined, or a naïve, Pollyanna
option for old hippies and new-age types.
It is time to dust down peace and look at it again with fresh eyes and a
renewed interest as an urgent and practical alternative to war.
Peace is one of the innate qualities of the human spirit. It is a
powerful and positive energy. It makes us feel good; it calms down
the mind and body; it enables us to think clearly and take a step back
to see the bigger picture and, therefore, make better decisions. It
does not seek to judge, blame, criticize or take sides in any dispute. It
accepts things as they are, that is neither good nor bad, but looks for
win-win outcomes, which take account of the needs of all. Based on
respect and compassion, it wins the hearts and minds of people and
creates lasting solutions which all can own.
Peace is not a soft option. It has nothing to do with giving in, giving
up, or being a doormat for others to walk over. It requires courage,
patience, optimism and deep faith in the goodness of humanity. It
does not suppress or coerce. Rather it empowers and encourages the
natural love of peace that lies within us all.
Peace is more than a theory or an idea. It is personal and collective
practice - the practice of non-violence. It has a long and respectable
history both in the East, where it is a key principle in both the Hindu
and Buddhist traditions, and in the West, notably amongst the
Two well-known, powerful examples of non-violence, among many,
are Gandhi, who brought about the defeat and withdrawal of the
British from India and Nelson Mandela who chose the path of peace
in South Africa that helped put an end to the apartheid regime. Both
men were great leaders. They had a dream and walked their talk with
great self-discipline and courage. They have a lot to teach us, if we
are willing to learn.
So, how do we bring about peace in the world now?
The foundation of peace rests in the consciousness of each individual
member of the human race. When we become the change we want to
see, the collective consciousness will change automatically and
together we will be able to put an end to war.
Here are some suggestions, which we can practice, individually and
collectively, if we choose.
Individually we can:
1. Regularly connect with our own inner peace through
mindfulness, meditation, reflection, contemplation, prayer, or
whatever practice makes us feel good. In this way, we raise
the energy of our vibrations, which not only calms us down but
also has an impact on our behaviour and the atmosphere we
create around us.
2. Monitor the quality of our thoughts and words. Words are an
expression of our thoughts; they are very powerful. As the
saying goes ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Words carry
an energy, which can either uplift and inspire, or incite hatred
and violence. So, at this time, do we revert to traditional
jingoistic and patriotic language that hardens hearts and closes
minds, or do we create a quiet healing space, which allows
more productive solutions to emerge?
3. Send powerful, peaceful, loving thoughts and good wishes to
everyone involved in the conflict, including President Putin,
who appears to be a very unhappy, isolated, fearful man. This
suggestion may seem fanciful, or even outrageous to some, but
there is research, which shows that collective meditation by a
large group of people can, at least temporarily, reduce crime
and murder rates and other forms of societal dysfunction
through its impact on the energy field of others. **
4. Heal our heart by releasing any emotions associated with past
trauma and pain. Free of such feelings, no one will be able to
manipulate and use our suffering for their own purposes
5. Respect and love ourselves. The resultant inner confidence and
self-esteem will enable us to stop people-pleasing and refuse to
do the bidding of others unless we are happy with their
requests (rather than demands). Being able to say ‘no’ in an
assertive way, rather than an aggressive or defiant way, is an
important aspect of non-violence
6. Learn the language of non-violent communication; *** listen to
ourselves and others with compassion; know and express
clearly, our feelings, needs, wants, desires, ideas and opinions;
set down boundaries and, at the same time, be prepared to
compromise (not capitulate) for the greater good.
Such practices, along with many others, give us the inner strength
and resilience to face adversity and make a positive difference in the
world. If we all became peaceful and peace-loving overnight, it would
not be possible for the likes of President Putin to do what they do.
There would be no life-denying energy to tap into and everyone
would refuse to cooperate.
Collectively, if we choose, we can do our best to create peace now by:
1. Demonstrating our support for the people of Ukraine by
organizing mass rallies in all major cities throughout the world,
including, of course, Russia
2. Wholeheartedly supporting extensive sanctions even if they cause
great hardship to ourselves
3. Making intense diplomatic efforts to arrange an immediate cease-
fire and start a process of mediation between the different parties
in which all are genuinely listened to and their concerns
4. Encouraging mass non-violent resistance, in all its many forms, in
Ukraine, Russia and beyond. Better to live and desist in this way
than die for the sake of a concept like ‘my’ country or ‘the
5. Providing immediate food and shelter to all those who need it as
we did for the Jews escaping Nazi Germany and the people who
fled Hungary at the time of the uprising in the 1950s.
In the longer term we can, if we choose,
1. Create a global culture of peace and non-violence in which
everyone is encouraged to focus on making a better world for not
only human beings but also animals and nature; a world based on
peace and love, compassion and cooperation
2. Organise a worldwide movement for peace (not against war),
encouraging everyone regardless of country, religion or race to
regularly come together on the streets of every nation to hold
hands, sing, dance, celebrate and enjoy the power of peace
3. Stop the production and sale of all weapons (tanks, planes,
missiles, guns, nuclear weapons, defensive missile systems and
bombs) to all countries
4. Dismantle and destroy all existing nuclear weapons.
At the end of the day, as responsible human beings, we need to make
a choice between:
Peace or war
Love or fear
Happiness or sorrow
Cooperation or competition
Caring and sharing or indifference and greed
Which do you choose? Which do you practice?
Written by John McConnel, stress management trainer, meditator
and author of Breaking Through The Darkness- how to defeat
depression, anxiety and stress
26 th February 2022
* See article by Roberto Muchlenkamp on the internet
** See the work of Lynne MacTaggart on the power of intention and the Field
*** See the work of Marshall Rosenberg