At our recent Peace Assembly, Year 11 students Ethan Hamilton spoke to Years 6-12 about his definition of peace. It was an inspiring speech and we wanted to share with you. It is quite lengthy but worth the read –
Si vis pacem parabellum or as the Latin saying goes if you want peace, prepare for war. We are so often told that peace is all that this world needs, all that we need but why?
Peace is one of those things which I find really hard to understand. What is it, how do I get it, why do I even want it? Peace isn’t something we think of as being that heroic is it, it isn’t the power your favourite character possesses, it’s not your role models secret to success and it arguably hasn’t won anyone a premiership or tournament.
We approach achieving peace and hence happiness as some fight that must be won, some huge journey to be undertaken, a mountain to be climbed and overcome, yet why must finding peace – an inner quality characterised by freedom from worry, indecision and doubt be so difficult to find?
That’s basically the million-dollar question…
A University of Toronto study found that fighting to obtain peace and happiness in our lives actually has a negative impact on our mental health, and I don’t think it’s hard to see why. The way we have been told to approach peace is to wrestle with it until we can possess it.
Every war fought, every story told, and every movie produced focuses in some way around a fight for peace. A fight for peace, its almost oxymoronic, yet it is so deeply ingrained in our way of thinking.
It’s easy to be peaceful when everything is going right for us… peace is easy when none of our friends or family are fighting, when we aren’t stressed or bored, when we don’t have assignments or too much work. Then it’s easy to feel contented, it’s easy to feel happy and it’s easy to feel at peace. It’s hard on the tough days when we have too much to do that peace is hard.
The narrative we have so often had told to us is peace and happiness await after Year 12, after you have your dream job and dream house. Then you’ll be able to be peaceful. The story goes that if we fight and struggle through the chaos of life that eventually we will win and find a peace. The true secret to peace is finding it within the busyness of life.
Personal peace is like that feeling when you wake up after a really good nights sleep. You might feel warm, relaxed and already in a positive mindset, but how often do you feel like this?
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
Instead of si vis pacem parabellum it needs to become si vis pacem para pacem. You have to be prepared to work for peace within yourself. Think of peace like a battery, you need to find the things that give it charge, that invigorate it and sustain it.
But what charges your battery might not be the dictionary definition of peace as a quietude or tranquillity.
Peace or rather personal peace is something totally individual. Your peace and contentment might be at a concert with 20,000 other people or watching the footy with some mates. It could be going for a run, swim, walking the dog, playing an instrument or lying in bed reading a book.
So, I encourage you to think for a moment what gives you that internal feeling of peace and satisfaction. Finding peace and charging your batteries is a lot about self-care… It’s about making time to do things even when you feel like you don’t have enough time to relax.
I’m no expert, as John F Kennedy said, ‘peace is a daily, weekly and monthly effort’. I’m still learning what charges my batteries. But here is what some of the neuroscientific literature says.
Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman wrote that: Happiness is being happy in your life. We experience it immediately and in the moment. Life satisfaction or in other words peace is being happy about your life. It is the happiness that exists when we talk about the past and the big picture. Furthermore, his and related research found that, your life satisfaction and peace increase exponentially when you have a strong support network of friends and when you live out your values.
But perhaps we would all live with more integrity, be truer to ourselves, practice radical honesty and overcome struggles with a surety and contentment within ourselves. As a community, it’s awe-inspiring to think what we could achieve if we all found that little, individual peace of mind amongst the chaos of life. finding it within the busyness of life. at peace is hard.
Think for a moment, aside from the stresses of work, study etc. How much uncertainty comes from what people might think of you or indecision and worries? Integrity is not a fix-all, but it can certainly help and act as an anchor point or a compass by which to live.
Integrity is when your values and actions align, when you live with radical authenticity and to search for what is right.
It is the basis for all human relationships. The good news about integrity is that we’re not born with it—or without it—which means that it’s a behaviour-based virtue we can cultivate over time. We can set a goal to show more integrity in everyday life and we can reach that goal by living authentically and undertaking activities that demonstrate our integrity and affirm our self-worth.
In the words of the Dalai Lama world peace begins with inner peace. Imagine the environment at Scotch Oakburn College if every student had that grounding of inner peace and contentment. I’m not saying that exams, tests or the inevitable rush of everyday life would be a walk in the park, but the school would be an incredible place.
Many of you are probably still thinking so what –
But perhaps we would all live with more integrity, be truer to ourselves, practice radical honesty and overcome struggles with a surety and contentment within ourselves. As a community, it’s awe-inspiring to think what we could achieve if we all found that little, individual peace of mind amongst the chaos of life.
If we all found what charged our batteries.