once ideas are unleashed into the world they cannot be destroyed by violence. – Paul K. Chappell
One thing that our lives and our news sources make sure to remind us of daily is the lack of peace in the world. From Ferguson to the Gaza Strip we bear witness to the deep divide and terrible conflicts that rage among us. A deeply feeling soul must have the question: what is the path to peace?
Paul K. Chappell, former army captain and Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, will be holding a workshop at our congregation in College Park on “Waging Peace” (September 12-13). He calls the workshop on his website “Teaching Peace Leadership Training”. Paul’s tireless work towards a world of peace is truly inspiring. It is both entirely practical, even ‘strategic’, grounded in his own real life experiences and deeply spiritual. His is a really new voice in the work of building peace into our world as is revealed in this interview with Tavis Smiley where it becomes clear that he is both pro-military and pro-peace(!).
With four books already written, and a fifth due out in October, he clearly sees the beginning strategy of working towards peace as a comprehensive building up of the Truth of peace. He knows that to see change in our world, in our society, one must begin in the inner depths of the human mind, of the human soul: there where ideas enter in. In his most recent book he describes just how powerful and important ideas are, and he does so by not only showing the powerful example women and African American’s have set for us all, but by invoking a Persian Myth:
“Women activists played a leading role in two of the greatest underdog stories in history: the struggle to gain human rights for African Americans and the struggle for their own human rights. When women tried to gain equal rights with men, the men who opposed women’s rights controlled the society, government, military, corporations, many universities, and most of the money. What did the advocates of women’s equality have on their side? The truth. Contrary to widely believed myths, it was not true that women were intellectually inferior to men. It was not true that women were less than human.
How did women and African Americans use the sword of truth to defeat deception, injustice, and oppression? Before I can discuss this, I must first explain why the symbol of a sword is such an effective and useful metaphor for truth. A Persian legend can help us better understand this metaphor. According to Persian mythology, Fulad-zereh was a massive horned demon who terrorized people as he flew over the countryside. Fulad-zereh means “[ possessing] steel armor,” and because he could not be harmed by spears or arrows, nobody could stop him from kidnapping women and killing innocent people. His mother was a witch who cast a spell on him, making him invulnerable to all weapons except a specific magic sword. The magic sword originally belonged to King Solomon, but Fulad-zereh now possessed it. Knowing it was the only weapon that could harm him, he carefully guarded the magic sword in his lair, where he kept it hidden.
The demon Fulad-zereh is a metaphor for state-sanctioned slavery, gender inequality, and other dominant systems of oppression . Just as Fuladzereh is invulnerable to all weapons except a specific sword, the mightiest systems of oppression are also invulnerable to all weapons except a specific sword— the sword of truth. And just as Fulad-zereh protects himself by hiding the only weapon that can destroy him, systems of oppression also protect themselves by hiding the truth from people.”
– Paul K. Chappell, The Art of Waging Peace: A Strategic Approach to Improving Our Lives and the World (pp. 182-183). Easton Studio Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.
The choice of this myth shows the subtle, deep intelligence of this amazing person. He chose an image of what is needed by the ‘warrior for peace’ drawn from that part of the world where there is so much conflict (and American soldiers). At the same time he shows that his spirit can read through mythic imagery to the spirit that speaks through it: he knows that the old myths are spritual truths dressed in story and image. He goes on:
Systems of oppression hide the truth by using two methods. The first method is to restrict people’s ability to express and hear new ideas, making it less likely they will learn the truth. The Roman Catholic Church did this when it banned Galileo’s books and forced him to publically recant his views, because his evidence contradicted the church’s worldview that the sun revolved around the earth. As another example, dictators often restrict freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. In addition, dictators often ban books because the written word is one of the most powerful things in the world. If you doubt the power of books, consider why it was illegal to teach slaves how to read. Also think about why the Nazis burned books and why throughout history dictators have banned books. One of the biggest threats to slavery, the Nazis, dictators, or any oppressive system is books. Slave owners knew this. The Nazis knew this. Dictators know this today. What makes books so dangerous is that they are filled with ideas, and once ideas are unleashed into the world they cannot be destroyed by violence.
– Paul K. Chappell, The Art of Waging Peace: A Strategic Approach to Improving Our Lives and the World (pp. 183-184). Easton Studio Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Here Paul Chappell leads us to recognize the eternal, unconquerable nature of ideas, something that resonates deeply with what we find about Truh in the Gospels, most especially in the Gospel of John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
In describing the goal of his newest book, The Cosmic Ocean: new answers to big questions, he goes on to say:
The Cosmic Ocean shares the treasures I have extracted from trauma. To explain how these treasures—which take the form of timeless truths—can help us solve our personal, national, and global problems, this book uses personal stories and extensive research to journey through time, around the world, and into every facet of the human condition…Understanding allows us to humbly recognize truth. Every human community—including our global community—needs truth, because peace and justice are built on the foundation of truth. When we extract truth from trauma, we can uncover a road that leads to hope, happiness, and human survival.
We are looking forward to being able to host and serve the spreading of these true ideas.