This week is the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that fateful day when two planes demolished the World Trade Center in New York.
Everyone remembers just where they were when they heard the news. I was working in the City of London at the time and watched the world-changing events unfolding on a screen at a hairdressing salon. There was an eerie silence all around as we watched in shock, hardly comprehending just what was happening.
We had an American colleague working with us at the time, who only a year before had been on a work assignment at the top of one of the towers.
As the Twin Towers came down, it slowly dawned on her that some if not most of her ex-colleagues and friends were likely to have been involved. Shock set in and I found a taxi for her, making sure she got home okay as all the trains were temporarily suspended in fear of a London attack.
On the way home, I joined a small crowd outside a TV shop, looking in awe and shock at the repeated clips of the towers coming down.
I still recall those few hours as if it all happened only yesterday.
That night of 9/11, I sent out a heart felt message of peace, hope and harmony to all my friends and family. Ten years ago, I was just about to start my monthly newsletter, and how I wish I could find that message again.
And today, I am saddened that so much has happened since then and the opportunity for peace, reconciliation and genuine dialogue was not grasped in the years that followed.
The World Ten Years Later
Ten years later, the world is no safer or wiser and there seems no end to the troubles around the world. Indeed today the world is struggling more than ever with growing inequality, poverty, economic and global warming challenges.
Today there is more angst in the world than ever before. The world is a far more dangerous place and we are all more vulnerable to attack, uncertainty and upheaval. The saddest part of it all is that we are no nearer to resolving any of the disputes and grievances that let to the 9/11 attacks in the first place.
Schisms between nations are becoming wider and there seems to be an ideology standoff between Christianity and Islam. All terrorism is blamed on Islam, which is portrayed as an unyielding, fanatical religion out to conquer the world and impose itself.
However it’s time we all realised that multiculturalism does not lead to disintegration – we need to celebrate our differences, not ridicule them.
In our hearts, we are all people with the same aspirations, hopes and ambitions. We all strive to better ourselves and create a better and secure future for our children.
Islam is not a monolith – I believe it actually covers 53 nations in the world. The fight today seems to be not between religions, but between ideologies
We need to remember that being a Muslim is just one aspect of people’s identity. Yet, that identity seems to have become paramount and sadly militarily defined. Whether one admits it or not, there is certainly a lot of Islamophobia out there.
Remember – Muslims love their children too.
It is time that we saw people as just people rather than judge them on their religious ideology. Ultimately peace can only come if we put our selfish motives to one side and think about the future of our children.
This week, rather than looking back once again on the events of ten years ago, let us focus on how we can bring peace into our own lives and work from there for peace in the world. And then maybe the legacy of 9/11 will be to bring us all together for the greater good of all.
The onus on this 9/11 anniversary is really on us to take a step back and look at our own lives and see where and how we can bring more peace in our life and in the world on an ongoing basis. Ultimately, if we bring peace all around us, then it can spread from there.
Have you ever wondered how you could make the world a more peaceful place?
And how you yourself could feel greater peace of mind?
Well, I believe that peace has to come from within you and there are two key questions we all have to address in our lives:-
1. How can I find internal peace within myself?
2. How can I bring more peace into the world through my work and my being?
Here is a very timely and poignant quote from the Peace Pilgrim:-
“We can work on inner peace and world peace at the same time.
On one hand, people have found inner peace by losing themselves in a cause larger than themselves, like the cause of world peace, because finding inner peace means coming from the self-centered life into the life centered in the good of the whole.
On the other hand, one of the ways of working for world peace is to work for more inner peace, because world peace will never be stable until enough of us find inner peace to stabilize it.”
So the first key is to become more peaceful within ourselves.
Here are my key tips to start bringing more peace in our lives:-
1. Create Daily Peace Routines
As one begins to bring more peace into our lives, it is important to have some peace routines.
To me, early morning is the best part of the day. There is generally a feeling of peace and quietness then that you do not experience any other time. People are gradually getting into the day and there is none of the hustle and bustle you get later one.
I suggest that you create a space in your life so that you can spend a bit of time early in the morning in self nurturing, rejuvenation, meditation. Also, you can use this quiet time to review the day and plan for what is ahead.
You can start your day with some meditation, soothing music, gentle exercise, whatever works for you. Follow this with a healthy and leisurely breakfast with your partner, the family or on your own.
Get into the habit of waking up early – and going for a walk or run in the morning. Not only will you be exercising, but your day will be off to a great start and it will increase your productivity.
2. Clean up Your Space and Simplify your Life
A key for peace in your mind is to have a physical space that feels neat and tidy. Psychologically we all feel better in a pristine clean home than in one that is a mess and full of clutter.
So a prerequisite for inner peace is to get your space clutter free and tidy. Do whatever you need to do to get rid of the clutter.
As you begin to bring more peace in your world and hence the world in general, make the most of your early mornings – a precious and peaceful start to each day.
As well as creating a clutter free space, there is a lot to be said for simplicity and focusing on fewer things and commitments in your life. Just imagine how much more peaceful your life would be if you didn’t have to think or be concerned about too many things.
I remember listening to a Buddhist master who kept repeating – “Let go”. So let go of all things in your life that do not support you anymore.
That also includes letting go of people too, though that may sound harsh to some of you.
3. Look for Ways to Contribute to Others
As we reflect on 9/11 and the lessons learnt, the sad truth is the world isn’t working right now as we threaten to bomb each other into oblivion.
What’s truly missing is compassion. I sincerely believe that if more readers take this one thing to heart, the whole world will evolve.
Compassion is about putting yourself in the shoes of the other person and seeing the world from their perspective. It is about feeling their pain and empowering them to be their best. It is not about pity or patronizing.
“Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike – each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.” – Buddha
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama
Just how can we learn to treat each other with more kindness, care, consideration and dare I say it with love?
Check out these 31 ways to carry out random acts of kindness and choose one or more methods to bring more kindness into the world every day for the rest of your life.
4. Celebrate our Differences
When we see the world today in the state it is, we are left to ponder why we are even fighting each other.
At the end of the day all of us have the same hopes and dreams, the same challenges and issues.
Indeed we share the same planet, breath the same air and drink the same water.
Are we really that different? Somehow we just need to learn to get on with each other.
Wherever you go in the world there is a wonderful, common theme – people:
– Small, large, fat, thin.
– Loud, quiet, croaky.
– Brash, timid, aloof, cocky.
– Honest, innocent, mischievous.
– Black, white, brown, mixed.
– Anxious, laidback, schizophrenic.
– Colourful, drab, naked.
It takes all sorts of people to make our world so interesting and colourful. So let us celebrate our differences rather than fighting for a warped cause.
At the same time, searching for peace is also not about becoming a tree hugging hippy!
Though there is nothing wrong with this, and each to their own path, the majority of the people in the world just want to live “normal” fulfilling, happy lives in peace with enough for their daily needs.
Life is not really that complex, is it!?
5. Forgive and Move On
We all hang on to petty grievances and misunderstandings amongst our friends, work colleagues and most sadly amongst our family members. It’s such disputes and simmering fights that ultimately energetically create bigger battles amongst communities and nations.
So ask yourself:
- What grievances can I let go?
- Whom can I forgive?
- What toxic or negative habit can I let go of?
This is not to say that you let others trod all over you – it’s also about respecting your own needs and boundaries and creating your life as best you want it to be.
Change yourself before you change the world!
6. Desire Less
A while ago a friend sent me a quote which really sums up very eloquently a key way of bringing more peace in our life. Though I am not sure who actually wrote these words, it seems to have some Buddhist connotations:-
“Desires cause peace to disappear. You think that acquiring things will make you feel secure, but the reality is that the more you have the more fear there usually is of losing it, and the further you are from peace.
Desires are the cause of all conflicts. When you want something and cannot get it you become frustrated. Learning to be free from desires is learning how to stay peaceful.”
So by curbing our lifestyles and aspirations, we would not only benefit the planet but also bring more peace in our lives.
Isn’t it amazing how all of these things are so intertwined?
7. Listen to your Heart and Follow your Own Path
Finally, it is all about getting clear about your own truth and following that truth.
Cut through all the media hype and determine for yourself just what’s really going on in the world around us today.
For your own peace of mind, get more information and insights into the conflicts around us, and with that knowledge support a just cause rather than being led along blindly with the rest of the masses.
On a micro level, to resolve any conflict, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and listen to the promptings of your heart.
Give up trying to control others and focus on your own life.
Here is another insightful Buddhist message which is very relevant:
Do not believe, just because wise men say so.
Do not believe, just because it has always been that way.
Do not believe, just because others may believe so.
Examine and experience yourself!
So for your own peace of mind, just remember to closely examine any situation and then let your heart rule rather than your head.
Start with More Peace in your Life Today
To conclude, the main question to ask yourself on this tenth anniversary of 9/11 is:
How can I bring more peace into my life today?
To help you get started, reflect on these following questions and apply in your life:
- What will YOU do to bring more peace into the world?
- What will you NOT do?
- What peace habit will you apply EVERY day?
- WHO will you forgive and let go?
- Who will you STOP trying to control?
Reflect on the answers to these questions. You may also want to come up with your own questions and reflections.
And remember that it’s not just about bringing peace in the world today – it has to be a daily and life long practice.
By bringing more peace within us and around us, we ultimately bring more peace to the world and we make it a better place.
On this 9/11 anniversary, surely that is not too much to ask for?!
“One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Please also check out this key post for 9/11 I wrote a year ago:-