Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011

Inner Courage and Love: The Path to Disarmament

by Jonathan Granoff

Decades of work as a political activist have convinced me that peace begins as an inside job. My work to achieve nuclear disarmament may at first seem like a purely external, public pursuit, but in fact it has taught me much about the power of a prayerful inner life and the centrality of love and prayer to success. Since I speak as a full-time political activist rather than as a religious leader, readers need not fear that my goal is proselytization for one religion or another when I say that the transformative power of prayer is crucial to our personal growth and political struggle for global peace.

The evidence of real prayer is whether it opens the heart to love, regardless of whether we pray quietly, out loud, within a tradition, out of a tradition, facing the east, the west, up or down. If it's prayer, it opens the heart to God's love. If it doesn't, it's not prayer.

As Bawa Muhaiyadeen said:

If each of you will open your heart, your action, your wisdom, and your conduct, and look within, you will see that every face is your face ... all sorrow is your sorrow.... When that state develops inside you, that is God's love ... If that love develops, you will not hurt any other living thing. You will not cause pain, you will not reject any life. And you will not torture any other life. Because if you hurt anyone, it will hurt you.

Feeling the joy and sorrow of others brings one into an active sense of responsibility, awakens conscience, and leads to action. Being effective in the realm of action means using skills, intelligence, political insight, and practical knowledge, but always in the service of that greater responsibility to the Source.

Without developing an inner character based on love and compassion, the instability of the mind, the harshness of the world, and the challenge of facing our mortality will breed fear. Fear is responsible for closing down dialogue and denying our interconnectedness. Fear too often can trump reason. But fear cannot overcome authentic experience-based love.

A culture that overemphasizes competition reinforces a false sense of disconnectedness. Reliance on science and technology to solve human dilemmas does not lead to peace. And the threats of nuclear annihilation and war certainly give anyone adequate reasons for fear. The modern world does little to remind us of our humanity. General Omar Bradley, a man familiar with the horrors of battle said it clearly: "We live in an age of nuclear giants and ethical infants, in a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We've solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount."

When fear is central to the public discourse we can be sure the least insightful among us will use it to profit from cycles of armaments and war, which reinforce the causes of fear. In fact, since the end of the Cold War, the world has spent more than $10 trillion on armaments. The United States alone spends more than $100 million every day to keep its nuclear arsenal at ready.

But those of us who have opened our hearts and felt the unity of humanity know that love is the manifest dynamic that weaves the mysterious infinite web of life of which we are but a part.

With such understanding, we must commit to creating cycles where cooperation and trust reinforce disarmament, which in turn reinforces our good qualities. We are the place where the cycles begin. From the glorious place of inner courage and freedom, we can change the cycle: no more fear inside and no more squandering of assets based on illusory quests for power. When individuals act from the place of the open heart, everyday life is enriched with the sacred; when groups act with resonance from this treasure, social change for peace and justice emerges. This is not a new insight. It is just a reminder that love is the healing force for each person and the strongest force for social change, even today.

Jonathan Granoff is an attorney, author, and international advocate focused on human development, nuclear disarmament, peace, and security. He serves as president of the Global Security Institute and is on the Advisory Board of Tikkun.

His articles in Tikkun include "Jonathan Granoff on Nuclear Weapons," January/February 2009; "The Foundation of Dignity," September/October 2009; and a transcription of his speech "Nuclear Disarmament and Our Highest Spiritual Truths," September/October 2010.

Source Citation: Granoff, Jonathan . 2011. Inner Courage and Love: The Path to Disarmament. Tikkun 26(1): 45

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