Matthew Cohen, MSW

Matthew Cohen, MSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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The Elephant’s Example and Solutions For Peace

I don’t have answers. The solutions to the world’s problems won’t come from a grand vision, but from a plodding commitment to goodness. I remember reading a quote in a Zen Buddhist book that said something along the line of, “Our way is to be like an elephant”. Slowly, directly, methodically, consistently, that is the only way we can move past the instincts that lead to the darker side of our society. Instincts have evolved, thus they are not omnipresent. What does not endure can be moved past, but to do so we must work with them in the same way that they arose, slowly. It has taken hundreds of thousands of years for the current state of human instincts to come, we should certainly not be surprised that it might take 1000 years of consistent effort to make a dent.

Who among us cannot feel the madness when reason clashes with instinct. The very course of my life has been marked by trying to understand that fine line. I used to  wonder how I could know a feeling to be irrational, and yet still remain dominated by the unending energy of the experience. I don’t think we understand how lucky we are to live in these times. Yes they are marked with peril, but there is a body of knowledge, experience, and wisdom on the screen billions of people. We have the words from thousands of years past; we have the examples of brave woman and men throughout human history. It is our fortune to have the written word to reinforce what also abides in our genes.

We do not suffer for lack of answers, but from poor planning. The solutions have been documented in 100 different ways and are spread  across societies, continents, and languages. The solutions take the form of religions, philosophies, sciences, and even mystery. Every generation has been blessed with a penetrating soul who sees through the surface into the depths. Our past is not marked with failure, but with small steps toward the dissemination of a way to transcend our genetic heritage. It might be safe to say that we are in the perfect place at the perfect time.

Perhaps war cannot be avoided, and maybe it is necessary to reach this point before taking the steps to go beyond. The written word only goes back so far, who knows where we will go from here? How many times has this drama unfolded and how many courageous souls have been able to overcome? There is no way to know, but maybe it is enough that there is a way, and that there have been those who have given all that they had to share it. Now all we have to do is be a little more like an elephant.

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