Minister’s forum: Benefits come from resolving conflicts |

Minister’s forum: Benefits come from resolving conflicts

Jan. 31, which marks the death of Mahatma Gandhi, through April 4, which is the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., denotes the ninth annual celebration of the Season of Peace and Non-violence. The season was kicked off officially in South Lake Tahoe on Feb. 4 by the PBS movie, at Lake Tahoe Community College, “In Remembrance of Martin.” This is the fourth year that the season has been celebrated at Tahoe.

For each of the 64 days there is a peace message and/or action that we can do to help bring about peace in our lives and in the world. These ideas span every religious group and are meant to be inclusive rather than exclusive. I was a part of the committee this year, as were many people throughout the community. And, as a committee member, I have had peace on my mind for the past several months.

And, these ideas were still on mind this past week as I went to San Francisco to baby-sit for my almost 3-year-old granddaughter. I couldn’t help wonder as I saw her struggle with her sadness and anger of being without her mother and father for several days (a very rare event), how we teach resolution to these internal struggles. I noted my own mixed feelings of compassion and sometimes frustration at dealing with her acting her feelings.

In my own religious tradition, Jesus taught often about leaving our thoughts of unforgiveness and resentment at the altar and going to make peace with our “brethren” first, before we commune with God. He said in essence we should come with a “soft heart,” with no baggage. The Buddha talked about the road to enlightenment being paved with compassion. One of the main Buddhist practices is to have compassion and kind thoughts for others. Every major religious teaching on earth has some aspect of forgiveness and compassion attached to it.

Many young families today raise their children to recognize and accept their own feelings. This is such a healthy practice. I couldn’t help feel a little jealousy mixed with pride as I watched her work through her gamut of feelings without either suppressing them or holding on to them. As with most children, she was just in the now. What a gift if we adults could do the same with the benefit of having those feelings acknowledged in the moment, and then released. Well, for most of us, it seems too late to start a new practice. But, what if we tried? What if we made a commitment to forgive those for whom we held resentment? What if we started by forgiving ourselves? How much energy would that free up for us? How much easier would it be to get to sleep at nights?

The fact is that dealing with conflicts is a part of our human experience. When we don’t resolve them we can become depressed or sick. But, when we do, we can not only benefit our own lives, but the lives of those around us. When we seek peace within, we are able to create peace without.

– Ruth Wallace is minister of Unity at the Lake.

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