OK

When I first started writing, I took a very narrow focus because I was finding my own voice. For a while, I wrote almost exclusively about politics. As part of a collective, the same fifty of us shared our thoughts as if we were the only other ones online. We were nurtured and our profiles boosted by a fellow writer who had used her Ivy League credentials to gain a plum position in the blogosphere. These were heady days for a bunch of honors roll students turned citizen journalists.

That seems like a thousand years ago now, though it is really only eight. Back then, no one could have predicted the rise of Twitter, or a brand new website my girlfriend at the time implored me to join. Only other college students could take part, I was told. When everyone was given access, a little later on, we were sure the end was nigh. I'm speaking of Facebook, of course. There was a time before social media. I wonder what another decade's worth of technological advances will reveal.

This only proves that yet again, conventional wisdom can be entirely wrong. Entirely and completely wrong. Thoughts and fears are, often times, fanciful or manipulative constructs created by people to suit their own private agenda. Another battle rages in the Holy Land, and we adopt the same worried posture and furrowed brow that came before it. I predict there will be many more. Regardless of who we are or where we live, we must always be wise to cloak and dagger mind games.

Few constructs of the collective imagination scare me as much as groupthink. We imagine ourselves to be individuals with the right to our own opinion, but it is remarkably easy to cast those aside when everyone else is, too. According to some religious fundamentalists, Armageddon beckons ever closer like nuclear war, and they use their own preferred text as justification. Once again, we fear for the worst, much as we have prior to the outbreak of another round of hostilities.

If we can only change ourselves for the better before we take a stab at anything else, we might want to begin here. Many religions, including my own, implore the believer to become the total and complete personification of love. I don't mean sticky Valentines and romantic comedies, I mean that I believe in the healing power of love. I'm sure I've said this a time or two before now. Putting ourselves and our own designs last is the only way we will ever live in peace.

Forget everything you've ever been taught and look again with fresh eyes. Regardless of who you are, believer or non-believer, think about the radical implications. Christianity, an influence on Jews and Muslims alike teaches that God loved every single one of us, as he loves us today, enough to take our form and to be the lowliest of the low in a forgotten, cursed corner of the world. If any lesson holds primacy over another, it is that our selfish designs must be cast aside for everyone's benefit.

This sounds simple, but nothing could be harder or more complicated. When we get it right, peace will no longer become an empty slogan or an evolutionary step yet to be achieved. Say what you will about the amoral, sadistic impulse of humanity. Violence is not our natural state, I assert, even if our leaders believe otherwise. The only thing we can do is keep diplomatic channels open, with the understanding that we should expect to win as much as we lose. Doing nothing is not an option.  

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