IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Inner and outer peace (a few initial thoughts)

So do we have to have peaceful people (people who have achieved some degree of inner peace) to have outer, societal (and international) peace? Put more analytically, are these two points on a continuum, and do they depend on each other? As you might know, there are people who put much more emphasis on one than the other, arguing either that “outer reality” is a reflection of “inner reality”, and that to change the former you have (but) to change the latter. This might be considered a more spiritual view (as defined in one of my earlier posts). There are also those–for instance of a Marxist persuasion–who, being more materialist, argue that social conditions determine individual consciousness. According to this perspective, the “contradictions” in the socio-economic order have to work themselves out–ie there has to be class conflict–until a more stable, and peaceful social order can be achieved.

While I have, for the sake of brevity, caricatured both positions, these really are rather different views of where peace, and social change in general, comes from. Of course, there are ways of reconciling them, along the lines of peaceful people creating peaceful social conditions, and vice versa. But that leaves a problem: when a cycle of violence starts, and increasingly violent people create increasingly violent conditions that make people even more violent, how do you stop and reverse the process? I personally think it has to do with values: people with peaceful values and the spiritual strength to try to promote those values commit themselves to change. So, in that sense you do need inner peace to create outer peace; but inner peace, while probably involving an inner life of meditation and prayer (at least for some), is an active posture and not a passive one. Here Ghandi or Martin Luther King are excellent examples.

I know I have just scratched the surface on this one, so why not discuss it further in the comments.

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August 18, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] editor@atlanticfreepress.com (Chris Cook) wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptBut that leaves a problem: when a cycle of violence starts, and increasingly violent people create increasingly violent conditions that make people even more violent, how do you stop and reverse the process? I personally think it has to … […]

    Pingback by Stop US Wars » Blog Archive » Inner and outer peace (just a few initial thoughts) | August 18, 2008 | Reply

  2. It is much easier to have inner peace when a person lives in a secure, peaceful environment. I hope everyone has the security and environmental peace that allows them the opportunity to explore all aspects of inner peace.

    Also, some people work so hard on creating institutions that support non-violent forms of conflict resolution and peaceful forms of co-existence that they never have a chance to seek a form of inner peace for themselves.

    Comment by Nathan Andover | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  3. Thanks for responding to my posts. You seem to have thought quite a bit about these issues.

    Comment by igbarb19 | August 21, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] and Qi I wrote last year about Inner and Outer Peace , but expected to have (much) more to say about the topic.  Well, it seemed about the right time […]

    Pingback by Chi and Qi « IG’s Peace Blog | August 17, 2009 | Reply


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