Is Peace Possible in the Middle East – Part four of four

Is Peace Possible in the Middle East, Part Four of Four – 


In a recent blog interview, former U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller quoted Larry Summers saying, “…in the history of the world, nobody ever washed a rental car: We care only about what we own.” Miller went on to say, “Arabs and Israelis, if this is going to succeed, have to own their own negotiations. They have to invest in them.”1

This has not happened. Instead, the U.S. government has been trying to broker a deal. A third party is not the answer. Nor are solutions hammered out by governmental representatives of the two warring factions. Peace will only come when it lives in the individuals at war. Then there will be no war. As Charlotte E. Keyes penned in her article for McCall’s magazine during the Vietnam years, “Suppose they gave a war and no one came?”

Let’s back it up even one more step, to ourselves. We don’t live in the Middle East. But we live inside our own skins. Are there any wars going on in there? The honest answer for most of us is “Yes.” Oops. Seems like we may not be owning and investing in peace for ourselves. We may read and watch the news and wish things were different “out there,” but what about “in here?”

That’s the challenge and the opportunity each of us face, especially as we view what’s going on in the Middle East. We have our own long-standing animosities, wars we’ve been waging for decades. We probably don’t use guns. Our weapons are invisible. We swing the sword of resentment, we launch the missile of anger, we plant the land mine of simmering hate. Can we be honest about this?

Years ago I co-facilitated a University presentation called Personal Disarmament. We encouraged students to match personal behaviors with popular at the time weaponry. Such truth telling was powerful. We all winced, realizing that, as Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy… and he is us!”

Similarly, we can meet the peacemaker… and he/she is also us. It’s just a question of how honest we choose to be, whether we will own the peace process and invest enough in it ourselves to make it so.

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Will Wilkinson is a local author, filmmaker and director of a Happiness campaign.

and website at:



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Is Peace Possible in the Middle East – Part three of four

Is Peace Possible in the Middle East, Part Three of Four by Will Wilkinson

Yes. Yes, even though the weight of history, current fighting, and the lack of inspired vision for a different future all suggest differently. What explains my confidence? Well, I don’t expect aliens to arrive and magically transform fighters into lovers. I don’t expect centuries old animosities to be solved with words or written agreements. In fact, I actually embrace the cynicism (or realism, depending on how you see it) expressed in this recent blog: “The governments in the middle east have been attending summits and peace talks over the past 50 years, yet nothing changes, and nothing will ever chance. We want peace with the enemy yet we ourselves hate them. We do not even have peace with ourselves, then how do we expect to find peace with the so long hated enemy?”1

The author actually gives us a powerful clue as to how peace might come. “We want peace with the enemy yet we ourselves hate them.” This reminds me of a true story about how an auto union / management conflict was solved when a joint meeting was convened and, while a large group of union workers and management gathered in an uneasy truce, their two leaders took the stage, each wearing a devil mask… and then ceremoniously removed them.

Suddenly it was clear that each side saw the other as the devil, the enemy. Until that basic viewpoint changed, no sort of brokered deal would be possible. Masks off, they quickly found an accord.

Such a simple gesture, yet such powerful results. Considering it as a metaphor, can we take off our own masks? We may think we wear the mask of a saint, but those who have decided we are their enemy see only the devil when they look at us, regardless of what we imagine we may appear. Masks are always masks. Underneath is who we really are. And that’s the same, regardless of religion or ethnic origin. We are human beings. We love, we hate, we want, we mourn, we hunger, we die, we hope.

It’s acknowledging the basic humanness that binds us together, superior to our differences, that can bring us the beginnings of peace.

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Will Wilkinson is a local author, filmmaker and director of a Happiness campaign.

and website at:


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Is Peace Possible in the Middle East part Two of Four

Is Peace Possible in the Middle East, Part Two of Four 

Yes. But it’s going to require a new story. Here’s how the old story is described by The Millennium Project: “The old story seems like “bite hands,” a game played in the Middle East by two boys. Each puts a hand in the other’s mouth. Both bite hard until someone gives up. “Give me justice or I bite harder!” “Give me peace or I bite harder.”1

“Both bite hard until someone gives up.” Well, that’s hasn’t succeeded so far. What’s glaringly obvious in this metaphor is that justice and peace are imagined as a result to come because of what someone else does in response to what is being done to them. It’s acquiescing to a threat… never a dignified or lasting solution.

What’s a saner alternative? We might consider justice and peace as starting points. Instead of force and threats, we could lead with the result we want. As has been said, “we experience what we express.” Want justice? Be just. Want peace? Be peaceful. Note, this doesn’t infer that by being just or peaceful anyone else will. It’s just stating the obvious, you experience what you express… on the inside.

So, how does the inside reflect on the outside? That takes faith. And the understanding that this is already a prevailing principle that is dependably in action. It’s just not easy to see local results. Bad things happen to good people. Why? How could a saint be tortured? Someone like Jesus, known as the Prince of Peace, was crucified.

That didn’t stop him from being peaceful.

And this is the point. Peacemakers are unrelenting. They demonstrate loyalty to the qualities they wish to see active in the world around them and they prove that nothing is stronger than their faith. Jesus did it. Gandhi did it. Countless others did it, most of them unknown heroes, lost in the dark of history. But their efforts have worked. Regardless of what the media tells us, planet earth is a far less barbarous place than it ever has been. Peace has been increasing and will continue to do so. That’s the evolution of human consciousness, the most un-reported story in human history.

In his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes, “The number of people killed in battle – calculated per 100,000 population – has dropped by 1,000-fold over the centuries as civilizations evolved. Before there were organized countries, battles killed on average more than 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Now battlefield deaths are down to three-tenths of a person per 100,000.”2 Furthermore, he goes on to say, “The rate of genocide deaths per world population was 1,400 times higher in 1942 than in 2008.”3

Who amongst us will say, “Is it my turn now?” When enough of those killing each other in the Middle East answer “Yes” and prove it, they will provide an unstoppable force for transformation in others and peace will come.

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2, 3 – 

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Peace: The inward passage – by Bonnie Greenwell

(See the full length article Peace: The inward passage, in the Ashland Daily Tidings back page inner peace column - August 2nd issue  – )

The majority of people resist the inward journey — they fear seeing what is true in themselves because they were taught not to trust, or they are distracted by mental goals and preoccupations, or they notice a mental boredom when approaching stillness. 

The spiritual path is not taken unless they come up against a blank wall — a moment of realization that their pursuits have not made them happy, a grief that cannot be released, a realization of pending death, or an accidental eruption of energy that leaves them confused and searching for answers.

Why undertake a spiritual journey?  Western cultures discourage you from letting anything other than a strong will and goal-setting determine your life path. 

And yet you may be called.   These callings can lead to a search for “Self”, the recognition of all the hidden parts of our psyche that are longing to be acknowledged and expressed.   

If you feel this calling allow yourself to unfold with it, trust and be curious rather than fearful, allow your self to begin the inward journey to the peaceful presence that you are. 

Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. is a non-dual teacher and transpersonal therapist.  Her recent book helpful for all on a spiritual path  “The Awakening Guide” available on Amazon and Kindle. Her Awakened Living blog is at www.





see the complete above  article at






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Is Peace Possible in the Middle East – Part One of Four

Is Peace Possible in the Middle East, (Part One of Four)


It’s become abundantly clear, especially with the current horrendous conflict in this area, that peace is inevitable in the Middle East. It will come, either because every single human being dies, which removes the warring consciousness that has turned paradise into hell, or because enough combatants embrace a peace consciousness. Those well schooled in Middle East history would say, “Don’t hold your breath.” And, as a recent post on the situation advised: “Jews and Arabs are deeply suspicious of one another and do not agree on the fundamentals that could make peace a reality.” 1

Let’s pause on the word “suspicious.” No doubt suspicion is based on past performance. Promises have been broken. Motives are questionable. Betrayal is centuries old. So, what can possible change this? Certainly, each side waiting for the other to demonstrate reliability has not proven effective. There will always be wild cards, individuals who defy agreements and sabotage any peace accord that leaders broker and most of those on both sides agree with. What happens then? Reprisals, usually. Then it’s rinse and repeat all over again, just as it’s been, seemingly forever.

Suspicion ends when suspicion ends. Period. It takes absolute commitment, on the part of someone, a bunch of someones, that can demonstrate an irresistible model others could be inspired to follow. This will only happen when not being suspicious becomes more important and more appealing than being suspicious, and when those modeling this new behavior are obviously benefited by it. Who’s going to start that movement? Well, who’s reading?

The same post offers this cautionary wisdom: “Paradigms are difficult to change. Sacred paradigms are especially difficult to challenge.” 2What is a “sacred paradigm?” Simply put, it’s any belief clung to beyond reason. It needn’t be religious. One can believe in democracy, for instance, and demonize socialism or communism. Regardless of different beliefs, what all sacred paradigms share is myopia and blindness. If you’ve ever held a penny up to the sun you saw how that tiny coin eclipsed the mighty sun. It has to be close to you, which is what those rationalized beliefs always are, and held a certain way, to cause the blindness.

What can successfully challenge a sacred paradigm is urgent need. For instance, a Palestinian committed to hating Israelis who needs immediate medical care to save the life of his infant daughter might accept help from the enemy. An Israel living in daily fear of Hamas might shift that belief if some act of extraordinary kindness was committed by some representative of “the devil.”

Peace is possible in the Middle East. But it will take local leaders, not politicians, modeling new paradigms of belief and behaviors. They all face the choice T.S. Elliot described between “fire and fire.” They can continue down the current warpath and burn to death, or they can choose the path of peace by burning their old consciousness.

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All-Pervading Peace

All-Pervading Peace

 Take any situation–let’s just take your current situation of the present moment–and recognize it is flooded with space, completely permeated by, and saturated with, space, down to the minutest subatomic particle, down to the very constituent points.

Open to the feeling tone, or felt sense, of space, as one of all-pervading Peace. This is ever-present Peace, not vulnerable to the wear and tear of changing times and circumstances. It is not vulnerable to anything that could ever happen in space. It is the Peace of Sacred Space. It is not just in some isolated sanctuary somewhere else, but is everywhere, all-pervading, right here and now in this space. Recognize that, be open to that.

 Now feel everything releasing into free and open Sacred Space. Feel every knot unraveling, every tension easing–into Peace, All-Pervading Peace. Experience the opening of your own body, then breath, then life force, then emotions, then mind, then self-sense. Release it all into the Peace of Space. 

Then when you are ready to move back into the world,  consider how this Peace wants to move in the world, in this situation and beyond. Then feeling this Peace embodied in you on all levels, move as the expression of Peace.

Ed Hirsch resides in Ashland – contact him at:


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In defense of peace

“That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men

that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” 

The above is the preamble to the UNESCO Charter adopted Nov. 16, 1945

If wars begin in the minds of men then it is the minds of men that war must be undone. 

The path to inner peace and world peace means changing the minds of the men and women of the world and that includes yours and mine. 

A mind that has chosen peace as its goal is always “aware” of the thoughts contained within:

Does the thought reflect peace or war? Joining or separation?  Love or hate?  Here are some statements that could be used in “defense” of peace:

Today I choose peace

You and I are the same

I am you, and you are me

Whatever I see in you, also is in me

I am responsible for how I see and think

I choose to have an open mind

I refuse prejudice wherever it dwells

I exclude no one from my love

This world is an illusion but love is real

Love is all there is

I am One with all Humanity

I honor all Religions and Faiths

More thoughts on inner peace:

What are other statements that would be in “defense” of Peace?   Please post them here. 


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Happy Interdependence Day

Happy Interdependence Day

by Will Wilkinson

July 4 has come and gone. This year, I celebrated Interdependence Day, inviting my on-line subscribers to expand their understanding of the holiday. See for details.

July 4, 1776 marked independence from Great Britain, which symbolized freedom from enslavement. Enslavement looks different today. There’s no distant country and its rulers telling us what to do. We have our own – career politicians chronically disconnected from the will of those they are paid to represent.

So, authentic leadership falls to us, ordinary people who do care about each other. One way we demonstrate this is to simply be neighborly. Sadly, too many don’t even know their neighbors. We’re too busy, rushing to and from “work.” Well, let’s pause that tape and, wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you are doing, take a moment to celebrate each other. We need each other! In so many ways. But first, let’s start with this simple acknowledgement – we’re all in this life together, facing similar challenges – and think up some simple ways to show those around us we do care.

You know the stories about people paying the toll for the driver behind them. Leaving huge tips. Hiding money around town. Etc. But there are less dramatic ways, like being more considerate to our family members. How radical is that? Actually, it is radical because it’s the simple things we most often overlook. Like, put down the paper and share breakfast with your wife, your kids, your dog…

Happy Interdependence Day, every day, a celebration of each other… which makes the world suddenly a very different place.


Will Wilkinson is a local author, filmmaker and director of a Happiness campaign.

and website at:


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Peace for the Middle East & at Home

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the University of Oregon in May 2013, said:

“Peace must come through inner peace.  First inner peace starts from each individual and not society.

We change society when each one makes an attempt to change themselves – then society changes.

The Individual is most important.  Society must change to a peaceful society.”

What would the world be like if every individual no matter what their faith, practiced a form of inner peace?  Would we have bombs flying back and forth from Israel to Gaza?  Mass shootings at movie theatres, colleges, gang violence, teen bullying or domestic fights? 

We witness the tragedy of the Middle East and our own mass shootings on a daily basis.  His Holiness speaks of every individual being responsible for their inner peace.  If we take responsibility and look at our grievances and explore what we hate and why and then realize how miserable we are, we can chose to find another way.   We would each find a place of understanding within ourselves that would reflect on others and out into the world.  When we give compassion to ourselves it extends to others and hate disappears. 

Choose Peace!  It is a minute by minute choice.  For more thoughts on living a life by choosing  inner peace.



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Speeding Up

SPEEDING UP by Dorothy Vogel

I’ve heard of a new app for smart phones called PAY.  With it, you will be able to waft your cellphone over a store’s scanner and your money flies from your bank through cyberspace into the pocket of the vendor. 

Shoppers will no longer wait in line behind a senior who struggles in his wallet for his card, takes three attempts to pass it through that charge thing, then waits to sign the receipt. ZIP.  Next, please?  

Things are speeding up. 

We know that Inner Peace means Tech-Simple.

The above is excerpted from  “Tech-Simple is worth a try” - Ashland Daily Tidings Inner Peace Column Saturday, July 5th issue.

Dorothy Vogel is the author of a new mystery that takes place in southern Oregon, “The Timber Mill Action,” available on

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    The Inner Peace blog is a place to share wisdom about peace practices and inspire, learn and explore all aspects of inner peace. A team of writers will discuss varied qualities –€” intuition, courage, fearlessness, friendship, forgiveness, gentleness, giving and receiving, tolerance, faithfulness and kindness –€” that help us all through the tough times, the challenges, the joys and the sorrows with inner peace as the ever-shining goal. Whether 2 or 92, your inner peace is up to you.
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