JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS - July 2018 - Kansas City
Culture of Peace
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
Peace can be an inner state of tranquility or an outer experience of order, safety or good relationships. If you look at a typical day in your life, I expect you will see interactions with family members, colleagues, friends or neighbors. You might experience conflict, peaceful negotiations, gossip, criticism, humor, praise, pessimistic perspectives or hopeful conversations. At the end of the day, you reflect on your own sense of anxiety, inner conflict, peace or harmony.
Chaos and trauma are the daily experience of some. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons highlights the experience of many children, pre-school through adolescence, who suffer from bullying or who bully others. This is just one area where safety and calm are not experienced.
At every level of your life, the dynamics of discord or harmony are always present. Could the solutions for your inner peace, harmony with people in your daily life and global peace be similar? Many well-known peace activists, writers and researchers speak of creating the “culture of peace.” Ghandi’s famous statement, “Become the change you wish to see," has become a mantra for many generations. The UNESCO constitution states, “Since wars begin in the mind of men (women), it is in the minds of men (women) that the defense of peace must be constructed.”
Ambassador Anwarulk K. Chowdhury, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, defines the ‘culture of peace.’ “To me, a culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes and ways of life based on the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, respect for diversity, dialogue and understanding. The objective of a culture of peace is the empowerment of people.”
The attitudes, values and life path supporting peace that begin in your mind and heart are empowering. You then connect with others, respecting differences, open to dialogue. These interpersonal dialogues become the bedrock of the larger dialogue in the society on political, social and economic levels. We are the building blocks of the structure of societal peace.
Inner peace, interpersonal peace and societal peace all face similar challenges. Cognitive distortions cloud the mirror of reality. According to Michael Yapko, Breaking the Patterns of Depression, the most common distortions include things like:
• All-or-none thinking (either-or)
• Selective perception (see what we want to see, hear, etc.)
• Disqualifying the positive
• Jumping to conclusions
• Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization (trivializing)
• Emotional reasoning
• Labeling and mislabeling
• Belief that things happen because of something outside myself
• Belief that things and people will never change
• Global attribution (one event is characterized as a global event, e.g. Chicken Little)
It would be a good exercise to review the cognitive distortions. Ask yourself if these mental distortions are affecting the way you think, act and behave. Take some time to think of ways you can realign yourself with your deepest values and beliefs.
Instead of watching the news, plant your garden, talk to a friend or write a thank you card. Instead of listing the tragedies of your life and the world situation, write a list of things you are grateful for and share it with a friend. When you find yourself immersed in a negative thought, think of what you want to see happen and imagine that. If you have an unresolved resentment, heal that now. Continue to dialogue with understanding and compassion. Live in the present moment of life knowing that all possibilities are here for you now.
Let’s wage peace each day with the power of our presence, our thoughts and actions, creating a personal and global culture of peace.
Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to