It can be very hard to embrace peace while seeking justice. The search for common ground becomes difficult when at least one party's agenda is to oppress and marginalize the other. While peace and justice go hand in hand, often times fight for justice shrinks the space for inner peace.
A constant process of reflection and introspection is required to keep a check on your own thought process and behaviors as you move forward. For those who are genuinely trying to sustain peace within and with the environment, here are a few simple tips:
Find Common Ground:
- The hardest and the most important part is to continue to look for and build on the common ground with those who might seem to be in opposition with you. No matter what, there are always shared needs and aspirations among all human beings. Well-being, a good future for the next generation, common principles and values, greater good are just some of the examples.
- It requires a patient and collaborative dialogue to explore commonality. Both sides need to actively listen to each other to find out what's that little piece that appeals to me in what the other person is saying. That focus needs to be sustained because we know it is very easy to hear others just to be able to reply back! Be patient with others, yourself and with the process!
- When allegations are made, listen with an open heart. Some allegations will make sense and some will not. Take what makes sense and leave what doesn't. Accept all allegations are important for the one who is making them because either they have felt them genuinely or they make their case better. However, what is important for others doesn't have to be important for you. Focus on what makes you a better human being and what facilitates the way for peace.
- Ensure to take breaks from the conversations and reflect on what is going on. Combine reflection with simple mindfulness activities such as deep breathing, prayer, meditation, or walking. Ask yourself, is peace still your goal, both inner and interpersonal? If yes, in what direction the conversation is going? Are you on track or need course correction? Keep the perspective and focus.
- Go back to the conversation with renewed energy and focus. Engage in limited durations until the other party is influenced by your energy or they disengage. Make sure that the other party understands your goal and genuinely try to understand what is their objective. Not all the engagements will end in interpersonal peace but they must not snatch away your inner peace for too long. Continue to practice mindfulness as you engage or eventually decide to put closure to ongoing discussion.
In the end, no matter what the conclusion of the engagement is, maintain your inner peace. Ensure you have done everything to stand up for yourself in a peaceful fashion. Other things might include escalating the issue to higher authorities, alliance with other leaders in the organization/community, researching policies and laws (if, relevant) that support your case, documenting your thoughts so that they are clear to all involved and other things that you might come to your mind that are peaceful. I will end by sharing what one of my mentors told me as I was going through a similar struggle, she said, "Keep your chin up and smile as often as appropriate!" Claim your inner peace, it belongs to you!
Please share any questions and/or insights in the comment box below. We all need to protect our inner peace in midst of the struggles of this world, any insights to further improve or strengthen this post are welcome!