World Peace Must Develop From Inner Peace
I’ve been in Houston this past week talking with prospective clients. While there, I learned of and was saddened by the news of the plane that was shot down over the Ukraine. The entire world has been affected by this tragedy in one way or another as have I. Moreover, I am holding a profound sense of grief for my many friends and colleagues in the Netherlands – a small country mourning the unnecessary loss of 193 Dutch people who died simply because they were on a specific flight to a specific location on a specific day.
I have not read the newspapers; I have not watched the newscasts; yet as I would pass through the lobby of the hotel on my way to and from meetings, I would see the “tickers” cross the television screen as the news developed. And my heart sank a little more each time.
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Two days ago, I was reminded of something Mother Teresa said: “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
This idea truly resonates with me at a deep level, as I hold the world-view that everything in the Universe is connected. Every aspect of life – all living things are interconnected. Whether you believe it or not, all of our words and all of our actions have a direct effect on everyone and everything around us.
Enter Neal…a taxi driver I met on my way to one of my appointments in Houston. As we were pulling out of the hotel, Neal stopped to speak to another taxi driver who had not followed the protocol of waiting in line for the next fare. Neal stopped to speak with him, sharing his view that what this other taxi driver was doing was not fair to the other drivers who had waited in line for hours until such time that someone needed a ride to some unknown destination.
I observed Neal as he spoke with this other gentleman. While Neal was firm, the place from where his words originated was loving. He did not judge. He did not lose his temper. He was direct, but loving.
After the exchange with the other taxi driver, Neal apologized; and as we made our way to my meeting location, Neal shared a bit about his life. I was touched both by his openness and gratitude. This guy has had what many would call a very hard life. Yet there was a wisdom about him that was fascinating.
Once we approached my destination, I paid the fare at which point Neal handed me his business card, stating that if I needed a ride to the airport on the day of my departure, he would be happy to provide service. I took the card; thanked him and made an appointment with him for 1:30 Friday afternoon for my ride to the airport.
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We met at the appointed time on Friday. I was traveling from a hotel located in downtown Houston to George Bush Airport, which left quite a bit of time for conversation. Neal shared with me in a most open way more of his story — how he came to Houston from Ecuador; that his daughter was born with a birth defect; that he was divorced; and how at one point in his journey, he had had a “shift to inner peace” completely transforming his life. As I listened to this man, I felt truly blessed. Here was someone who had struggled – truly struggled – in nearly every area of his life. Yet there was no hate. There was only love and gratitude. We talked about destiny. We talked about abundance. We talked about how crisis can lead one to a life that could never have previously been imagined.
Neal shared more about his daughter and how he never took into consideration what the doctors deemed would be “her life” – an incapacitated life at that. Neal shared his view that his daughter had been “chosen” to enter into this life with the infliction she has because she was meant to make a difference – a difference that would help someone else. I was extremely touched by this.
One particular story Neal shared struck me in a most profound way and it was not a story about his daughter. Neal told the story of something that happened a few months ago – a story about two women who had missed their shuttle to the convention center. Neal witnessed the women running towards the shuttle as it pulled away from the hotel entrance. After observing this, he turned around at the next corner and drove back to the hotel entrance where the two women were still standing. He asked if they were going to the convention center. When they said “Yes”, he offered them a ride. They declined the ride; but he offered it again, this time being clear that he did not intend to charge them. The two women got into the taxi.
During the short ride to the convention center, the women shared that they were in town for an organ donor convention. Both of these women had lost children and upon their deaths, decided to have their children’s organs donated to others in need. One woman shared that the donated organs of her child helped 7 other people to live healthier lives. The other woman shared that the organs donated by her child saved 4 other lives.
As Neal approached the convention center, the women thanked him for the “free” ride. Neal said that he had received so much from their stories and thanked them. He gave each woman his business card and said that if they were ever in Houston again, he would be happy to drive them to any location they desired.
Neal opened the door to let the women out of the taxi. He extended his hand to say goodbye; but instead each woman hugged him and then asked if they could have a picture together. Cell phones in hand, the women proceeded to take a couple of “selfies” with Neal. A gentleman standing near the entrance of the convention center noticed this and asked the women if they would like for him to take a picture of the three of them. With an enthusiastic “yes”, Neal and the two women stood together near the cab. And just as the gentleman was ready to snap the picture, he said, “OK, ladies. Now each of you lean in and give this man a kiss on the cheek”. Group photo accomplished – complete with smiles and now kisses.
One small moment in time. A butterfly effect.
One precious opportunity to make a deep human connection – an opportunity that could have been easily missed had Neal not turned around to offer his taxi to two women he had seen running after a shuttle.
A coming together of three acts of kindness that changed 14 people’s lives for the better – the 11 people whose lives became healthier because of the gifs from two parents who lost their children – Neal who without hesitation offered a free ride to two breathless women standing on a street corner — and 2 women who were open enough to accept Neal’s offer and share so openly with him on a brief trip to the convention center.
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Houston, Texas. Three strangers come together through the simple gesture of a free taxi ride. At their final destination, the same three people emerge from the car as friends.
Eastern Ukraine. 298 family members, friends and strangers come together on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – a flight that never reached its destination. None of these people emerge from the plane. And now millions around the world mourn their unnecessary deaths.
An act of love in Houston. An act of hatred in the Ukraine.
Two completely unrelated incidents? I think not.
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“It is not the magnitude of our actions but the
amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
Until we can develop the inner peace to do all things with great love, we will continue to have disasters such as MA17. And we need a more human approach.
In his world peace message, the Dalai Lama shares that we have not yet succeeded in bringing about peace and happiness or in overcoming suffering. “We can only conclude there must be something seriously wrong with our progress and development, and if we do not check it in time there could be disastrous consequences for the future of humanity…we are in danger of losing touch with those aspects of human knowledge and understanding that aspire towards honesty and altruism.”
My takeaway from this is that peace and happiness are not something external of us; they are something within us. And when there is harmony within, real love of and compassion for others is possible. “World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence; peace is the manifestation of human compassion.”
And world peace is within our grasp. Small acts of love and compassion can and have changed the world.
It takes only one minute to turn the taxi around. It takes just one dollar to donate to those in need. It takes only one smile to brighten someone else’s day. And it takes just one kiss on the cheek to radiate love.
And by the way, Neal and the loving acts of those two women he drove to the convention center so many months ago have now touched 15 people’s lives for the better. Because my heart has been moved as well. A butterfly effect in the making…