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Monday, August 18, 2008

A Separate Peace (John Knowles, 1953)

I read it and ended up sobbing. Then I slept and woke up sobbing harder... not really peaceful reactions and after affects of a book entitled "peace", even if but partly.


In a world ruled by chaos within and without, how do you seek for and find peace? Do you look for it elsewhere if you cannot find it within? And if there are people who seem to have the gift to embody it, how can it be shared? Is it enough to know peace by association? But these are useless questions.

I think it is suffice to know that peace exists, even as an abstract. Its very idea, made manifest by a term for it, makes it real. It is a possibility that everyone can aspire to achieve. Yet it is a simple goal made complex by our innate human selfishness and greed and yes,as the book says, ignorance. "Wars are made by something ignorant in the human heart."
But I think more than anything else, what makes peace ever elusive for most of us is our lack of faith. It is not that we cannot understand the idea of peace and of the ways to come by it. It is because for many reasons, we refuse to believe that things like that can be so simple. That there are such things that we need only accept without worry that it will be at the expense of something else important to us. Our world has grown too cynical that goodness is never good enough. Everything has to come with a price.And this way of thinking has cost us way too much than we can ever pay - idealism, friendships, quiet moments, joy, even our very lives. We refuse to believe that the abstract ideas of peace and love are indeed real and that there are people who embody these in their very lives. It is very sad that our lives are way too short and we make it so much more shorter because we waste so much time pondering on the soundness of our disbelief.

We all know someone who, by our social yardsticks, seems to be either just crazy or else too good to be true - someone who loves all too easily and too faithfully, someone who always seem to see the best in everything even at the worst and most discouraging times, someone who can always find something to celebrate about the littlest things, someone who always points out the beautiful in the birds, beasts, clouds, and even in the purpose of having enemies,someone who was "blind" enough to see something beautiful in you. We all know someone like that. We just don't believe that they can really see what they say they are seeing, nor feel what they say they're feeling especially when it is all goodwill towards everything living or otherwise. We dare not believe. Since life is a struggle and we are all rivals, we dare not believe in the innate goodness of the human heart. And for this we sometimes pay far more than what we imagine the price tag was worth. We lose these people. We either drive them away to where others can appreciate them more, or onto cold, dark corners where their inner light cannot survive. we lose them. BY our disbelief, we sometimes derive the world of a soul who really understands and embodies what peace, and life , and love is really about; someone who can show us what these things really are.

John Knowles said that peace is indivisible; that the outside only reflects that which is within. And so is faith. Its either you believe.Period. Or you don't.Either you believe that it is possible for anyone, even yourself to be purely good. Period. Or no one is.

The hardest way to arriving at any truth is through acceptance. If we can only begin to believe that life is simple, and all good things like friendship and love and innocence are indeed real and pure, then peace need not be separate and seemingly unreal.

kaigachi is a conjugation of the Japanese term "kigaicha" or crazy. It roughly translates as "crazy about something."

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." - C.Jung

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