51+ Million Trees Later
Wangari Maathai is one of my peace heroes. Like most successful peace activist, she started with making change on a small-scale. She planted trees in her rural area so that poor women and starving children could have a healthier more sustainable life. Professor Maathai was founder of the The Green Belt Movement and winner of the Noble Peace Prize.
Quote: “For me, one of the major reasons to move beyond just the planting of trees was that I have a tendency to look at the causes of a problem. We often occupy ourselves with the symptoms, whereas if we went to the root cause of the problems, we would be able to overcome the problems once and for all.”
I would challenge that anyone who is not at peace in their life it is because they are failing to examine and address the root cause of their distress. A new spouse isn’t going to make you happy after you’ve left the old one if you don’t know why the relationship failed. Being thinner, prettier, wealthier isn’t going to make one happy if the inner voice keeps repeating, “You’re never going to be good enough.” Turning up the air conditioning won’t solve the reason your area is on day 20 or 100 of record heat.
One of the best descriptions of anger I was ever given for a child was: the branches that we see on a tree represent the anger a child displays — go to the roots of the tree and there you’ll find sadness — find out why the child is sad and the anger will go away. Or to say it another way — as Professor Maathai believes go to the cause or the root of the matter to solve the problem and find peace.
It may seem strange to list myself as one of my own peace heroes and a few years ago I certainly would not have done so. It is not with pride or arrogance that I do so now. It is with the knowledge that we recognize in others what we know to be true about ourselves. For me to be able to see the peace hero in others there must be at least a bit of that in me. If you are able to admire peace in others than it resides in you — you and I don’t need Noble Peace Prizes or international accolades to be a peace hero. Sometimes being a peace hero is as simple as being aware an “attack” from another is fear and a cry for help. This is the moment to be aware that they need love rather than condemnation. Love will bring the peace — even if it must be given from a safe distance. I am most imperfect with my peace actions but I am willing to continue striving every day to seek peace and love.
No Bullets Fired — Four years without war
(former) President Jimmy Carter like all great peace activist has held true to his beliefs throughout his presidency and well beyond. For four short years, we had a president who knew the balance between the yin and yang. He sought peaceful resolutions — moved sustainable energy to the forefront and supported the notion that the poor are not helpless to be given handouts rather than a hand up. Through his work with Habitat for Humanity he has supported people assisting in the building of their own homes and then others as well. He has been awarded the Noble Peace Prize and if you listen to his TED talk you will get an inkling as to why he received this honor.
There is a reason we feel more peaceful in nature
When I’ve seen to too much news about wars and other human atrocities. When I’ve listened to too much gossip and bickering from those around me. When I’ve breathed in too many toxic chemicals that are supposed to improve my life. When my body feels the anger and discord that so often vibrates around me. I go walk among my peace heroes and absorb their peaceful intent.