Elinoar Roosevelt said: “It is not sufficient to speak about peace, rather, one shall believe in it; moreover, believing in it is not sufficient. Rather, man shall work for it.” We have tackled the connection of the path of peace with life, and the end of conflicts with death and annihilation, this has pushed the world to seek peace, and to set international peace awards. Nonetheless, establishing peace starts from within man, then proceeds towards others. It is a journey for each one of us to the depths of soul to explore its hidden aspects towards God, self and others.
Peace with God
George Herbert, a poet, said: “Wherever peace exists, God exists”. Indeed, true peace in man’s life begins with the beginning of his relationship with God, his Creator; God is the only source of peace, which can never be shaken through incidents and circumstances. Thus, the prophets, righteous people and saints of God enjoy great peace in their life despite hardships and distresses caused by the wicked rejecting them! The path of peace is the path of good, so, the righteous people always enjoy soul quietness and piece, while the wicked know no path for comfort and peace, as the Bible said: “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked”. In the Quran, peace follows the righteous: “through which Allah guides those who seek His pleasure to the ways of peace”.
Hence, returning to God through repentance is considered the first step towards peace in man’s life. Repentance is changing one’s direction of life; he heads wholeheartedly towards God, desiring to seek good, abhorring evil and sin. Repentance restores God to man, as the Bible says: “Return to Me, and I will return to you,”. In the Quran, we read: “As for those who repent, mend their ways, and let the truth be known, they are the ones to whom I will turn in forgiveness, for I am the Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful.”
The true repentance turns man from committing evil and sin to practicing good and virtue; hence, the worries and disturbance he used to suffer have been turned into peace and reassurance.
Peace with Self
It is said: “Peace is spontaneous, it unites us. We shall spread peace. However, unless we enjoy deep peace within our hearts, we shall never hope to establish peace in the outer world.” Man also needs to realize his own depths, and the latent conflicts there in order for him to reconcile with himself and live peacefully, no doubt the internal conflicts that man passes through make him lose his peace, and consequently this is reflected in his life and relations with others. So, man shall search and inspect inside his soul for the reasons behind his disturbances.
Worry is one facet of peace absence from people’s life, by worry we do not mean the natural feelings that people experience every now and then as such feelings are natural human phenomenon in life and a natural result of the pressures and problems that people go through, rather, we mean the urging feelings controlling man’s thoughts, flaring up until they turn a huge obstacle against thinking positively to overcome hardships and problems.
Negative thoughts concerning oneself throws man in a vicious circle of negativities, tensions and inability to make valid decisions; hence, taking fast steps towards failure. Negative thinking may sometimes go further to having hostility towards others, slandering them and hunting down others, which destroys one’s peace with himself and with others.
Thus, it is useful for man to meet separately with himself every now and then, to evaluate his true thoughts, works and feelings, his self-relationship which is reflected on others. I would like to assert that man’s relationships with himself and with others are intertwined and interrelated, with each one deeply affecting the other, and in the first place, both are a natural result of man’s relationship with God. And… stories in beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center16 December 2020