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Peace--inner and outer.

"Peace" is a big word. It appears on signs in demonstrations. It gets JL used in political speeches. It appears in sermons. Yet it often means an absence of war. "Peace" often means we are not fighting. We define this important concept by what is not happening.

I call "peace" a personal metaphor, a big word that we fill with our own meanings. When I think of "peace," I recall the Peace Movement during the Vietnam War, which was sometimes far from peaceful itself. All the controversies and upsets of the time come back to me. "Peace" was quite personal, as I could have been drafted into the military. It was not always clear what we should be doing to promote "Peace." But the word described the goal: stopping a war.

As I write this, the United States is engaged in war in Afghanistan, partly in Libya, and partly in Iraq. And there is also the "War on Terror" which overshadows everything. But since there is no compulsory draft (yet), the calls for "Peace" are much quieter, more abstract. No giant demonstrations, no marches. The personal metaphor of "Peace" is different for today's college students than it was in the late sixties and early seventies.

But the goal of "Peace" still seems heavily negative. Just stop fighting--between nations, between neighbors, between spouses, between family members. Isn't there a more positive aspect to "Peace?"

Most of these uses of "Peace" come from considering actions out in the world. This is outer peace, which is slippery and contested. I think the more positive aspects of "Peace" become clearer when we consider inner peace. We talk about "peace of mind." We hope for "peace in our hearts."

Again, we fill the personal metaphor "Peace" with our own meanings. But these meanings are our own thoughts and feelings. Inner peace means calmness. When I feel inner peace, I do not get upset at various issues, or problems, even though I know they are problems that I will need to work on. Inner peace gives balance.

I personally feel that having inner peace is the best way to live. I am not sure where it comes from, although different religions say inner peace comes as a gift from God. Even if there is no outer peace, inner peace can help you through the toughest times.

As I look at people growing up today, in 2011, I wonder about their possibilities for inner peace. They are constantly involved in their cell phones, their computers, their games. They are constantly being texted and texting back. They seem to need constant stimulation. Will it be possible for them to have inner peace in such an environment?

This leads me to another concern. If their electronic environment does not allow them to feel inner peace, will this inevitably lead to loss of peace in their outer worlds?

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Author:Gozzi, Raymond, Jr.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2011
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