How do you achieve peace and success in a society where everyone is out to get you?
Love, peace and unity…but Siberia is not the place the be.
I was going back over my work in preparation for this week and I realised I had a dozen plus articles related to this very topic of peace, the factors affecting it and modes of being to help live a peaceful life (or at least ameliorate stress, suffering and conflict). It’s always been one of the main goals of my writing because it’s always been one of the main things I’ve struggled to do in my life – achieve peace.
“Success is easier to achieve than peace, in part due to success being quantifiable.”
It’s the qualitative nature that makes peace more difficult to obtain – that and incessant marketing campaigns – there is no industry standard metric for peace.
Peace is bad for business and politics. There is too much economic and political power to be gained when people are at peace, plus throw in the fact that people regularly feel good about disturbing and upsetting others. With the rise of opportunists, troll behaviour, vicious character assassination attempts and general hostility and incivility, small wonder people struggle to go five minutes online without trying to be persuaded to change their views, part with their money or having abuse hurled at them.
“Why can’t people live in peace? Because others won’t let them.”
There seems to be nothing that pisses people off more than a competent person who has their shit together. These people become the subject for the frustration and envy of the masses whose green-eyed monster they just cannot contain. It’s like junkie friends when you become clean, “nah-uh, can’t have you around, you reflect poorly on me, fuck off.”
“We come into this world kicking and screaming – for some this continues well into adulthood – so what chance at peace do we have?”
If it’s not the constant comparisons with others letting us know where we are lacking or deficient than it will be the war going on inside that will obliterate any chance of peace like a hellfire missile on a terrorist cell. I’ve always been my worst enemy, so, despite my above-average sensitivity to others and worldly issues, no one has really been more combative to me than myself. Still, there are a lot of expectations and pressures for modern people to have a very public persona. The compulsion, obligation or need to show everyone everything about yourself, what you are doing and your thoughts on all issues is very strong. This type of behaviour leads to or invites some of the things I’ve talked about previously.
The narcissistic, the insecure and the immature have always dug away at the foundations of people’s sanctuary, and now, with the help of technological advancements, it’s now broadcasted to the whole world previously reserved to only the rich and famous. For a lot of people maintaining an online presence is essential to their business, especially for creatives like myself, a necessary evil of diminishing returns that sucks the joys and peace out of what I do. And I don’t even have a massive following!
“Being successful is like being the Homecoming Queen, all the ugly bitches hate you.” – Charles Barkley
In Australia we generally despise the “tall poppy”, cutting them down at any and all opportunities (and for good reason), but I also see the opposite happening, those who champion mediocrity chastising anyone with aspiration and ambition, shaming their success because it makes others feel bad about themselves. There really is no winning, it feels!
It seems more and more likely to me that peace and success have an inverse relationship with one another i.e. the more success you have the less peace you can achieve. Notice how I worded that last bit because the unsuccessful life does not guarantee peace, usually quite the opposite. I feel there is a sweet spot of minimum success you can accept that enables a peaceful and content existence, kind of like the happiness vs income comparison where you get to a point that your baseline happiness doesn’t get any better for further increases in income – here your baseline peacefulness.
As I’ve said before, peace does not come from ignorance, it comes from knowledge. It is a voluntary and conscious process. Much like tolerance. To think about it, I’d say you couldn’t achieve peace without tolerance. Peace is not static and rigid, it is dynamic and flows…which is partially why the concept appears more in Eastern philosophy than the West.
If you are interested in further reading on peace and associated topics I’ve made a quick and non-exhaustive list of some other articles of mine that I feel might be relevant: