I just spent five days with my teacher Prem Rawat, celebrating his 50 years of his work. There were many things he talked about but the one that has stayed with me most profoundly is that peace, both the absence of war and the peace we can feel inside, is a human need. Like air, water, food and shelter, when we go without peace, we suffer.
Right now the world stands by horrified, ashamed and helpless before the terrible destruction of Aleppo, Syria, a war crime on the magnitude of the firebombing of Dresden and the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The people of Aleppo have no escape from the unprecedented barrage of bunker busting bombs dropped by the Syrian government and their Russian allies. Hospitals, aid supply chains and schools are targeted. The strategy is to annihilate the civilians and drive the rebels into the arms of the only people who can render aid, the extremists aligned with ISIS. That way those standing against the government of the criminal Asad will lose their legitimacy as the innocent civilians lose their homes and their lives. No one can doubt that peace for them is a human need.
But what about the rest of us? Don't we need to feel peace? Don't we need shelter against the hatred, greed and ignorance that constantly arise? Without peace inside we can have no lasting happiness. It is only in peace that we can recognize our true selves and feel the contentment we are longing for. With peace comes access to our wisdom and the strength to do what is right. With true peace we can endure any war, inner or outer, with our sense of self intact. Maybe too, as more an more people find peace inside we will be able to bring peace even in impossible situations like the war in Syria and the refugee crisis it has created.
We need to experience peace every day, just like we need to breathe, drink water, eat and take shelter from the storm. Luckily for us, such peace is possible.