Our minds have been dwelling with the victims of war in Ukraine. The current situation reminds us that war has never went too far. It also reminds us that a continuous practice for peace is ever more important. Nothing lasts forever. Peace in Europe has been interrupted by war, but even that will pass. Bearing witness in any nearby conflict is a challenge. It is difficult to see violence and especially it is painful to see the perpetrator as ourselves. Understanding war and working for peace, even in ourselves is a practice that never ends.
Finland has also had its past with our neighboring country. Finland was a part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917. During the Second World War Finland was attacked by Soviet Union and fought two separate wars with them losing a major part of its land mass to Soviet Union. Finns also remember the Soviet nuclear accident in Chernobyl, which resulted radioactive fallout in Scandinavia.
Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers (Not-Knowing – Bearing Witness – Taking Action) can help us in our current predicament. Reading the news and social media feeds we might want to occasionally stop, listen and breathe. What happens in ourselves as we hear about war? Am I sad or do I react and use violent words to describe my inner turmoil?
The first Tenet asks us to accept our Not-Knowing and to let go of our preconceptions in situations we face. The second Tenet is Bearing Witness, which encourages us to stop, sit down, breath and let our hearts take in the stuff that is facing us, whether it is external of internal stimulation. When we let go of our assumptions and bear witness, we might naturally be led to the Third Tenet, which is Taking Action. Our practice can lead us taking action for the wellbeing of everyone. We might jump into our cars and drive to war zones to help the people in need. We might raise funds for organizations on site. But we should try to see that everyone in our nearest circle is feeling well before we reach out for those car keys. We should see if our children are reacting to the news about war? They might need our support more than anyone else. Peacemaker reacts accordingly in every given situation. Sometimes you yourself need more attention than anyone else. Then the question might be: Do I need to engage myself with the violence presented in the news or social media?
The situation in Ukraine is explosive and it might even have further repercussions and we should do everything we can to end violence and alleviate the suffering of everyone engaged in this conflict. However, we should not forget ourselves, our families or other painful processes in our current world. The the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives humanity a very narrow window to act if we should like to save our civilization for the generations to come form ultimate climate disaster. We should also not forget the other armed conflicts in our world such as ongoing wars in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and in Ethiopia.
We encourage everyone to practice peace and take care of your wellbeing.
Mikko Rakushin Ijäs & Maija Myōshō Ijäs
Peacemakers Finland, Regional Affiliate of the Zen Peacemakers International