World Peace: All Figured Out

Travis Griffith

Travis Griffith has a surprisingly simple plan for World Peace. Would it work?

Guess what I did this weekend?

Well, aside from watching my Cardinals get spanked by the Saints in the NFL Playoffs, I figured out the way to world peace.

Yeah, I know. And it wasn’t even that hard.

First, I was thinking about the reasons why humans on Earth fight with each other. The biggest reason, though certainly not the only one, is this: faith. Why? Because when humans have faith in a god alone, it makes them crazy. It makes them believe their way is the only right way, and others should believe it too.

Here’s a simple example that boils down the history of faith-based fighting into a brief exchange between characters. Imagine these people sitting in a beautiful café at sunrise, enjoying a latte and talking about faith:

The Christian: Jesus is the Lord and the only true path to God’s Kingdom.
The Jew: I don’t believe in Jesus.
The Christian: You are going to Hell unless you accept Jesus into your heart.
The Jew: That’s why we don’t like you very much.
The Muslim: Just don’t come to our land and say Jesus is Lord. Allah is the one and only God. And we’ll fight to defend Him.
The Christian: Christ is the world’s only savior and those who don’t believe will burn in Hell.
Elise (the pagan): Enough with Hell. Just love and worship the planet, and the people and nature around you.
The Christian, The Jew and the Muslim: You’re crazy. That’s worshipping a false deity.
The Muslim: You’re no better, Jew.

Pretty soon, the peaceful little café erupts in a firestorm of punches, hate, judgment and lots of spilled coffee.

Isn’t faith crazy?

Now, what if each of these people had faith in their gods, but also in each other? Maybe the conversation would go like this:

The Christian: I’m curious about what you guys believe.
The Jew: We basically believe what you do, but without the whole Jesus as savior thing.
The Christian: Fascinating. Tell me more.
The Muslim: We believe in a peaceful planet, ruled by one God, who we submit ourselves to.
The Christian: Sounds lovely.
Elise (the pagan): We worship our Earth and respect our gods and goddesses while exploring spirituality.
The Christian, the Muslim and the Jew: Still crazy, but hey, that’s cool.
The Christian: I’ll tell you what, I’ll pick up the bill this time. Nice chatting, friends.

Now the café is a place of love and acceptance. Everyone’s beliefs are still intact and each person had the opportunity to gain some knowledge. Would it really be that hard to expand this little café scene to the entire world?

Granted, on the world scene we’re dealing with spilled blood instead of coffee, but the solution is the same. Love each other. Keep faith in whatever gods we choose, but while working to restore faith in the humanity that surrounds us.

Why is it so hard for humans to accept people with different beliefs? Could love and acceptance truly be the keys to world peace? I have faith that they are. What do you think?

Love… to all.

***

Travis Griffith, who left behind the corporate marketing world, choosing family and writing in lieu of “a comfortable life” financially, is a former atheist trying to define what leading a spiritual life really means. His children’s book, Your Father Forever, published in 2005 by Illumination Arts Publishing Company, Inc. captures only a fraction of his passion for fatherhood.

18 Comments / Add your own comment below

  1. Beautifully said, Travis. How could anyone argue?

  2. Though the thought is a nice one, I disagree that the main reason people fight one another is over faith. It’s rather for resources (such as oil, water, food, metals), territory, or ideology. Faith comes in as a corollary. Given diminishing resources of water and oil, in particular, we’ll be seeing more conflict. And because most of the oil of the world is in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, that’s where the wars will be, too.

  3. This made me laugh as much as it made me think. David, I think faith-based fighting (at least intolerance) is a major hindrance in the path to peace. Resources belong to the planet and thus to the people who live on earth. When we achieve acceptance of all religions, the fights based on territory and resources will dissolve too. There’s a new energy, and yes, wars will continue, but over time new generations will realize they aren’t getting us anywhere. While oversimplified, this post does make sense and is part of the seeds needed to actually achieve peace.

  4. You are BRILLIANT Mr. Griffith. It’s all so simple. If only people realized the beauty of it’s concept. It’s OK to let each person have/find their own truth. It might not be what the person next to you believes……so what! Each unique beautiful soul is entitled to follow a faith or spiritual belief that feels right to them. Excepting what each other believes (even if we don’t understand or agree) is the key to peace.

  5. It’s interesting and ideal for sure. But possibly oversimplified. We also have to account for human nature. In concept, it seems easy to accept someone else’s beliefs (which are more than just faith, although faith may be at the core). In reality, the way we as humans live out our culture and ideology is more complex. Conflict is as much in our nature as peace. Peace does not always come from tolerance. Once we get down to brass tacks, these concepts of peace and love affect areas like commerce, child raising, gender roles, human rights, wealth and poverty, etc. I think it’s easier for us as Americans to preach peace and love from the standpoint of being the worlds most advantaged people. We might feel differently if we were in the 3rd world for example, and we stood to gain or lose more by not asserting our own ideology in favor of tolerating someone elses (which we perceive as more powerful and intrusive). I’m all for peace and love, but defining those and getting 6 billion people to agree is tough. This is the nature of conflict. There’s my $.02 for now. I like reading your stuff though Travis.

  6. “Granted, on the world scene we’re dealing with spilled blood instead of coffee, but the solution is the same. Love each other. Keep faith in whatever gods we choose, but while working to restore faith in the humanity that surrounds us.”

    Nice, Travis. But there is at least one premise here that is not entirely correct, namely that we “choose” our faith or our gods. Because of social programming we are, most of us, whether we realize this or not, slaves to our culture, and that includes religion. In America it is not unheard of for someone raised in a Christian home to leave the faith or switch to another, but it is still a rare thing. And in many cultures (even sub-cultures within the United States) it is beyond taboo to leave the faith of your childhood. See honor killings, shunnings, etc. Also, many believers of all faiths are, through an indelibly ingrained worldview, incapable of seeing things your way, or my way, or any other way but their own. At least not without some “harm” to the personality and psyche. (I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask the radical Islamist to change his views because it might be painful to him, I’m just saying he’s not likely to consider it after a single cup of joe.)

    I think it’s important to realize this when discussing other faiths, and especially when conversing with those who are not of our own. It’s important to acknowledge just how culturally (not necessarily spiritually) biased we are. And it’s important to never hate someone for their beliefs, seeing as they may not really have a choice.

  7. Travis Griffith

    You make very good points CFisher. Very good.
    I disagree though that humans don’t have a choice about what faith they pursue. We ALWAYS have that choice, whether we’re talking about an Islamic fundamentalist, and atheist, a Christian… doesn’t matter. It may seem like there isn’t a choice for a couple of reasons:
    1. They simply don’t know other choices are available
    2. The consequences are too great to risk a change.
    Yes, humans do choose their gods, even if those choices are sometimes made out of convenience or pressure. I would never want (nor ask) the radical Islam to change his views, if those views are his truth. What I would ask of him though is to accept your Christian views, and ask that you accept his, so the two of you could sit down and enjoy that cup of joe rather than argue about who is right. This isn’t about getting people to change faiths at all. It’s about getting people to accept that there are other, equally valid faiths on this planet.

    It’s just going to take time… people who are “forced” (or brainwashed or programmed) into their religions will eventually have an easier choice. I predict the children of today’s generation (especially in Middle Eastern countries) will battle with their parents about religious freedom and beliefs. That generation and the following one will be who brings peace to our planet. Right now, today, we can just sow the seeds… not by asking people to switch religions, but by accepting the religion they are in.

    Regarding your last sentence above, is it OK to hate someone for their beliefs, if those beliefs are of their own pure free will?

  8. I’m elated and encouraged to see the dialogue your writing has inspired here. Our goal should never be to alter one’s path, but to give them the opportunity to walk it with strength, clarity and confidence. Sometimes we just have to look at the direction were going from someone else’s perspective. I’m so proud of you!

  9. I’m not sure I’d agree that children in the next few generations will battle with their parents about religious freedom and beliefs. We’re talking about ideals that are thousands of years old. They may take a different shape but I think they will stay intact if not reinforced. I think we’re in another wave of religious zeal over the end of the world (this has happneed before and causes religions to take on a more militant stance). It will probably go on for quite some time. Most of the news I see regarding radical Islamic Jihadists involves young people in fact. So, I would doubt that we’re going to see future generations (especially in middle eastern countries as you mentioned) bring peace to the planet. We westerners also need to try to see things form the Eastern perspective though too….the cultural point is a good one. Sometimes I think we mistake peace for western thought.

  10. I have to say in all respect that I disagree, Mr. Griffith. I think what you suggest is more like a catch-22 than love, but let me explain why I think that.

    You say “love each other,” but what is love? Love is putting another person above yourself. Love is giving your jacket to someone who’s cold. Love is making a homemade meal for someone who’s hungry.

    If you truly believe in Christ, and that He is the Way & the Truth & the Life, to walk away from a conversation (like “The Christian” in your scenario did) like that would be to deny real love to someone.

    It’s a denial of something as Necessary as a jacket to someone in need. Granted, a child might not “need” a jacket in his first few minutes outside, but very quickly, he will grow cold and wish for the jacket he dismissed at the door before leaving. To wrap a jacket around someone who is about to go into the cold is to think ahead for that person, to show enough love to prepare them and protect them.

    To “keep faith in whatever gods we choose” would not “restore faith in the humanity that surrounds us.” It would remove faith entirely.

    There is a quote from the Disney/Pixar film, “The Incredibles,” that I think illustrates what I think about the subject:

    Helen: “Everyone’s special, Dash.”
    Dash: “Which is another way of saying no one is.”

    If every religion or belief system was Just As Good as the next, there would be no point to any of it.

    With due respect, your claim that all religions should be considered unique, special, & worth hearing more about is another way of saying that no religion is unique, special, or worth hearing about.

    I truly mean this in a kind way and hope it is taken as such.

  11. Travis Griffith

    Hi, Heather-
    Of course your well-written words are taken in a kind and loving way and thank you for the comment. (I love the Incredibles too.)

    I think where we disagree begins at the definition of love. I don’t think love is defined as “putting someone above yourself.” I believe all people are equal and love is defined when we unconditionally accept that. And yes, we CAN all be equal and special at the same time.

    Your words direct me to assume that you believe accepting Christ is as necessary as wearing a jacket on a cold day. That may be true for you, but it is not true for someone practicing Islam or Judaism. The Christian in the scenario above didn’t walk away from the conversation; she showed unconditional love by accepting her neighbors for who they are.

    There is no such thing as one “correct” faith for humanity. There is such a thing as a correct faith for each individual human. When we can accept that fact and stop trying to persuade people to our own faith (and let people freely choose which faith is right for them) we are on our way to unconditional peace and love.

    The part of your comment that troubles me is where say, “your claim that all religions should be considered unique, special, & worth hearing more about is another way of saying that no religion is unique, special, or worth hearing about.”

    Do you truly believe that certain religions are more special and unique than others?

    If so, I would challenge you to let us know which you feel are worthy, and which you feel are not.

  12. Thanks for the response, Travis. I appreciated hearing your thoughts.

    The reason I believe that love as a definition means putting someone above yourself is because of John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    The term “special” was a loose term I used to connect my train of thought with “The Incredibles” quote. It made sense in my mind, but what I really meant was “true” and “legitimate,” not “special.” I suppose I don’t believe in individual truths for each person. I believe in absolute truth.

    I suppose my main reason for commenting was confusion; I thought that Relief considered itself to be a Christian literary magazine, but what you seem to be proposing feels more like pantheism to me (?). Please forgive me if I am incorrect.

    Do you truly believe that there is no such thing is a correct faith for humanity?

  13. Heather,

    As Editor of Relief, I assure you that we do indeed consider ourselves a “Christian” journal, though we follow a much more generous orthodoxy than some Christians are comfortable with. As an organization, we do not ascribe to any one denomination or sect, we are not affiliated with any church or religious institution, and we welcome voices and opinions outside of our own.

    One of our main goals is to provide a place where these different voices can engage in intelligent, respectful discussion on matters of faith without feeling the need for self censorship due to a fear of doctrinal bias. And the polite tone of this exchange between you and Travis is an excellent example of what we hope to see. In other words, following Travis’s analogy, I see Relief–and this online forum in particular–as the cafe, not one of the conversation participants.

    I only step in now to point out that our non-staff bloggers are more like participants in and facilitators of the conversation, not co-owners of the cafe. At the risk of taking sides, I’ll say that I do agree with you that love is a verb and that not all religions are equally true and beneficial to mankind; however, I do acknowledge there is something to be learned from all faiths. I welcome Travis and his opinions primarily because he is honest about his search for understanding, and because his posts get people thinking and generate discussions such as this.

    Disclaimer over. Carry on, carry on.

  14. Heather-
    You asked if I believe there is a correct faith for humanity. No, I do not.

    I come from a background of fierce atheism where I discounted all religions equally. Now, due to a very long story I could never tell in the comment sections, I border somewhere between Christianity, paganism, pantheism and plain old spirituality.
    Instead of discounting all religions, I now I respect them all. Even love them for the peace and happiness they create in their followers.

    I cannot accept that all people on this world would fit into one religion or faith. All humans have their own individual truths, which is why there is such great diversity of people, jobs, hobbies and beliefs. Choosing a faith is a profoundly personal spiritual experience, one that no other person should be able to influence.

    When people in the Western world say Christianity is humanity’s savior and everyone should accept it, people in the Eastern world become upset and make the same declaration. Which brings me back to my original point: it starts fights.

    Both religions offer their followers spiritual peace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christian leaders were the first to represent a major religion by stepping up and offering peace and acceptance to all, whether they accept Christ or not?

    Christians believe they have the truth as much as Muslims do, and quoting a Bible or Koran verse is never going to change the other’s mind. My point is that we need to take a step back and agree that all sides will never agree. But they can respect one another.

    That is the reason Relief has so much of my respect. It is a Christian journal with an amazing staff who have an open mind to other beliefs and faiths. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that Relief is a pillar of what Christianity truly is.

  15. I totally agree with you, in what you said regarding the fact that Christian leaders should be the first to step up and offer peace and acceptance to all, whether they accept Christ or not. I completely agree with you and I think we need more of that. To me, someone shouldn’t need to be a Christian in order for me to offer them my friendship, my help, my love, and my support.

    And I do understand what you’re saying about diversity; with different cultures, different religions are going to make more sense & come more easily.

    Essentially, I agreed with you, except that I don’t believe — at the risk of using a cliche — that Christianity is a religion. I believe God created us, we chose sin & rebellion over a relationship with God (Adam & Eve in the garden). Because God is perfect, the penalty for sin is death. But because of His love for the world, God sent Himself in human flesh (Christ) to pay that penalty for us & restore His relationship with humanity through the gift of His sovereign grace. Christ is my reason for living & I don’t see the love and grace that my Heavenly Father has shown me as “religion” any more than I see the love that m earthly father shows me as “religion.” It is by His grace that we are restored to a relationship with Christ in spite of our rebellion. To use another cliche (please forgive me for that), Christianity is the only faith where man doesn’t come to God, but God comes to man. My Creator showing me grace in spite of what I’ve done is not a religion, in my mind: it is grace, pure and simple.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’ve appreciated our dialogue and your kindness in your comments.

    P.S. Thanks, CFisher, for clarifying the mission of Relief for those of us who might’ve been feeling a bit confused. I appreciate it!

  16. Travis Griffith

    Thanks Heather. Your comments are exactly the kind of dialogue I was hoping to engage in and I appreciate your views and willingness to express them.

  17. If you really want to know what a spiritual life really means do what jesus did. travel the worl and leanr from people, and teach them what you know. You may be surprised to find that world peace is not as simple as you propose. First of all a muslim, a jew, a pagan, and a christian would not be sitting at a coffee shop chatting it up if they felt so strongly about their religious beliefs. Sadly, most people of any faith are normal people who are just as happy to go about their own business. It is the zealous ones who convince us to believe something that may or may not be true. As it says in the bible; “the truth is the truth is the truth” there is no substitute, so no matter what you say there will be no world peace, for god is our captain, and we follow his will.

  18. Aloha Travis,
    If you have not yet discovered the greatest thing to hit the planet since Jesus, I pray you google or buy THE URANTIA BOOK. It fills in all the missing links in our chain of understanding of how things came to be the way they are on earth and throughout the universe. Best regards, Jim

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