This is a guest post by Tim Owens, former Kansas State Senator and Representative, and current MainStream Board member. We occasionally present guest opinions by moderates, regardless of political affiliation.
“Let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me…..” the song goes. I think it is time this world and the people in it took a good look at this concept.
I am not naïve. I have been to war and found it to be just as awful as any movie can make it seem, and just as unrealistic as many movies make it appear to be. War and Hate are everywhere these days. The evening news is full of the violence that we experience all the way from the International Community right down to our neighborhoods. The debate goes on about the need to arm everyone and the “right to carry” for our personal protection. Politics is consumed with angry diatribes against the other party or against people with whom we disagree.
Instead of finding ways to reach agreement and find common goals, we search for ways with which we can malign the other side in order to “win” an election. Compromise is no longer a concept embraced by any political group these days, whether in this country or in any other around the world. “You can only be free if you think like me!” People go out of their way to complain about everything. Young people are growing up in a world of violence, death and hate. Even in our churches there are differences that tend to divide the congregations.
There was another song of an anti-war nature back in the ’60s that went something like this, “They’re rioting in Africa; they’re starving in Spain. There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain. The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles. Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch. And I don’t like anybody very much. But we can be thankful and tranquil and proud, for man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud. And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away!!”
With a few modifications, it doesn’t look like things have changed much in the last fifty years. So what do we do about it? We have to look at forgiveness and tolerance and we need to find ways to resolve our differences short of anger and hate and warfare, whether in our own home or in our own country, or in the international community.
Consider if you will, two of our service clubs and their creeds that they strive to live by. First there is the Optimist Creed which says:
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
Next there is the International Rotary Four-way Test of the things we think, say or do:
First: Is it the Truth?
Second: Is it Fair to all concerned?
Third: Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Fourth: Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?
These creeds provide us with a guide to how we should conduct ourselves. We should expect the same from our leaders and government. I'm a member of the MainStream Coalition because I believe in good government and a strong democracy. I believe compromise, listening and understanding is a virtue not a vice and I believe that personal ideologies and special interests should not trump the common good. Perhaps if we all adopted what these clubs stand for then in fact Peace could begin with each one of us and extend the influence of our religious heritage (whatever that may be) throughout the world. Our actions will speak volumes.