One Important Question 

I spend a lot of time teaching youth peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. Violence isn’t just hitting, stabbing, or shooting someone. Peace isn’t just refraining from hitting, stabbing or shooting someone. Violence and peace are mindsets. Peace and violence are choices. In making the choice of violence, there are many ways to carry it out. In making the choice of peace, there are many ways to carry it out. Once any decision is made, the path becomes clear. Once a commitment is made, the path is walked, and becomes something you know, not just know about.

There are far too many youth who know the path of violence at an early age. And there are too few adults who teach the path of peace by example in thought, speech and action. Peace is not passive, or cowardice. Peace is active and courageous.

There is an old samurai proverb that says, “A warrior can choose to be a pacifist, everyone else is condemned to it.” After being proven in battle in the ring, dojo, and on the streets many times over, I chose peace and then committed myself to its grace. And when I made that commitment, there were few men who supported me in that. But the men who did support me in my commitment to peace were men who’ve experienced the extremes of violence and war, so they understood, better than most, the importance of peace. After enough experience you learn that all violence is senseless.

When I was struggling to commit myself to a path of peace by taking my first steps upon it, the Creator posed a question to me deep within my heart, “Do you think I created you to be a healing force or a destructive force?”

It’s easy to say something negative and mean. It’s easy to throw a punch. It’s easy to use a weapon. In a world that glorifies violence and even rewards it, it takes strength, courage, and trust in the Creator to bless those who curses you, and walk away from those who want to fight you.

My uncle taught me a long time ago that the war is always behind the other person’s eyes – the war is within them, their own mind – their own choice. And so it is with peace. Peace is always behind the other person’s eyes – the peace is within them, their own mind – their own choice. Peace can be behind our own eyes, and in our own mind at any moment we choose.

What’s the reward? Often times I’ve found the reward for choosing peace is simply peace itself. And I have found few, if any rewards greater than peace.

The question the Creator posed to me years ago is a question I’ve asked many youth over the years. Although for most people the answer is obvious, the commitment to being a healing force needs to be obvious now more than ever before. Do you think you’ve been created to be a healing force or a destructive force?

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Keep Painting and Stop Tainting

People are always painting pictures of other people and want you to take the picture they painted and hang it up in your house so you can have a bad opinion about another person, or change your mind about your positive experiences with another person. Those aren’t even paintings, they’re tainting. Just old, contrived collages of opinions that have nothing to do with how that person is now, or what God will grow that person into.
Here’s the deal, if you know someone long enough you will have both positive and negative experiences with them, and they with you. We all have our days. We all fall. We all make mistakes. We have all hurt someone and we have all been hurt. Bypass all that and just keep working on you.
Keep painting and stop tainting. Paint better and better pictures of yourself and let God hang those pictures in God’s house.