Creating Soul-utions For All: Taking Peace to Heart
by Alessandra Baer


The antiwar movement here at UCSB is a movement of increasing pertinence at this point in history, which unites campuses worldwide. It is a movement that will allow our university chancellors and statesmen to work for all people of the world instead of private enterprise, private interests, and private wealth. If peace is the first priority, then the rules (framework) we create to aid us in our communication, understanding, and well-being will represent our everyday thoughts and actions towards one another accurately. To achieve this, we must first take peace to heart.

So, how to take peace to heart? First, take a deep breath and remember that you are human. Use your heart to see that there are people on the “other side” there to help you. At the February 2008 peace rally, I was reminded of this when I saw two friends violently oppose one another. One was a cop/mother and the other was a protester/student. I watched as the mother tackled the student to the ground, and the student resisted the pain, the imperfect system in which she lives, and the handcuffs being placed on her wrists. In that moment of truth, when friend was against friend, I saw a reason for this change, understanding, and an all-inclusive solution to take place. I saw our need for movement from war to world peace. I saw a need for everyone to take peace to heart. I saw a need for our movement to
take peace to heart.

To achieve peace in our hearts and minds, our most intimate everyday actions need to be examined and revised to incorporate awareness for and about the people around us. Everyday, we interact with strangers, acquaintances, and friends, all of whom we form opinions about and reactions toward. Whether we are actively aware of this or not, we do affect their present state of being, choices, and their present and future actions towards others. In the case of the protestor and cop, both had pre-formulated thoughts about one another that caused them to react to the situation as they did. The rules (framework) that were created to aid them in their communication and understanding of one another, in combination with their pre-formulated thoughts, led both people into an escalated situation and a recurrent state of conflict. The recurrent conflict concerns me most. Both people, today, do not have a space by which to communicate their needs effectively and work towards a solution together according to the rules. At this point, when the rules become more important than the people and prohibit direct communication and conflict resolution, we must remember why the rules were created and the human beings to which they apply.

We, the people, create both the rules and the thoughts by which we act, and both are far from perfection. A wise man once said to me, “We will always be distracted from perfection, but every distraction is an opportunity to find perfection again.” As conflicts arise, we have the opportunity to find a solution. The solution can be found in one of the most basic actions of our everyday existence, a smile. By smiling at yourself, you will remember why it is important for you to be here. By smiling at your friends, you will show them that you appreciate their life. And, by smiling at strangers, you give them a chance to become your friend. Your life will be happier for it, and those around you will benefit. People make the rules and we can recreate the rules and thoughts in our intimate everyday actions.

In a world where respect for the individual is greater than the rules, a cop will be highly skilled in conflict resolution, not aggressive force. The protester will be able to speak and be heard on national television, the peaceful person will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and random acts of kindness will be deliberate and common place. We can find peace in our intimate everyday actions. Take peace to heart, by focusing on the solutions.