Have you ever had the opportunity to get past a prejudice you never knew you were carrying?
I had such a lovely experience doing that yesterday. A woman was walking towards me as I strolled by Lake Chapala in Ajijic, Mexico, and, matching my pace, she asked me if I thought peace was possible in the world.
If you ever ask me a question like that, be prepared for a lengthy lecture as I stand on my soapbox and preach the gospel of Scott Grace.
I loved answering her question with my homespun blend of “Yes, there is already peace on earth, and it has begun with me.”, as well as some optimism about how slowly and gradually war is fading in popularity and eventually will end as a means to problem-solving, but probably not in my lifetime.
I told her that I believed that my daughter and her generation will carry the torch and take the peace movement further.
I ended my sermon by quoting President Eisenhower, “One day the people of the world will want peace so much that the governments are going to have to step out of the way and let them have it.”
She then launched into a sermon of her own. It turned out that she was a Jehovah’s Witness.
When I realized I was talking to someone that I pre-judged as having been steeped in dogma doo-doo and never bothered to scrape it off, I tensed up and started planning for a gracious and probably not quite honest exit strategy. (I’m so sorry, I just remembered I have an appointment.)
As she launched into her well-prepared lecture, I fantasized about trying to ‘correct’ her thinking, and what I might say to her to influence and change her. I was on automatic pilot, getting defensive, preparing an elaborate and intelligent defense.
It’s ironic that I deeply long for more people to stop taking sides when there is a war going on, and respond with compassion to the suffering that war creates on both sides.
And here I was taking sides with a sister, bracing for a fight or a flight, ready to launch into a verbal attack. Like all attacks, whether by countries or in relationships, it was already justified by my ego as self-defense.
As I became aware that in my mind I had already reacted in such a way that I was contributing to war on the planet, I decided to practice moving past my defense plan and actually listen to her, really listen to her, as if I had no prior experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was feeling my way into a heart connection with a fellow human being I shared the planet with.
It wasn’t easy, at first. But I stayed with it, breathed deeply, and gradually began to lower my Personal Pentagon and feel where she was coming from.
I realized that she had found someone that worked for her, and that she and I actually had some points of agreement. I focused on what we had in common, and we ended our time together with mutual respect and, dare I say it, a sense that a friendship was possible.
We made plans the next time we saw each other to do some singing together when I had my guitar, which is quite often.
I do know some songs with Jesus lyrics and even some Bible quotes.
As I learn to value connection over correction, life gets sweeter every day.
Yes, there is already plenty of peace on earth. It’s not reported by the media, because it doesn’t sell papers. But it is making headlines in my heart, my mind, and my nervous system.
THIS JUST IN! Peace breaks out on earth, and it started with me.