A New Year's Gift from Jay Rothman: 31 Definitions of Peace and You


Newsletter #189— January 2, 2023


For a time when we are, for good reason, preoccupied with the many things that are going wrong in our society, and the many threats we face, we would like to start the new year with an exercise suggested by one of our more frequent contributors, Jay Rothman. From the perspective of different cultures, he asks us to spend some time each day over the next month reflecting on those times when we experienced "peace" as it is defined in various cultures.  He explains 31 different words for "peace" and asks how we have embodied or experienced such feelings in the previous few days. Guy read these prompts more broadly, wondering how societies successfully deliver — or could potentially deliver — on these various definitions of peace. Jay and Guy further ask us to appreciate these moments, and look for ways in which we might be able to help cultivate and expand their presence in ourselves, in our the larger societies, and in the world. We would be very much interested in hearing about and sharing any thoughts you might have as you do this and Jay asks people to share their compiled answers with him at the end of the month if you are willing to do so. He plans to compile them and share them with all the authors, and if there is sufficient enthusiasm, continue this exercise on for the rest of the year. --Heidi Burgess. 


31 Definitions of Peace and You

Gathered and shared by Jay Rothman (with help from Claude.ai)

Given how much war and destructive conflict painfully prevailed in the past year – and threaten to continue clouding the world in this new one – peace-seekers, like everyone else, can easily succumb to despair. However, in this new year, our calling is to hold peace in ourselves and relationships; to maintain the vision and foresight that peace is possible. 

One way to do this is perhaps through a disciplined focus on the numerous meanings of peace that literally flow from every culture and language globally. Here is a simple daily exercise for this new month of the new year to cultivate a “habit of peace.”

For those interested, if you succeed in writing a reflection every day (or catch up if you miss one) please feel free to share with Jay at the end of the month and he will redact and share the results, in anonymous form, with all authors. Also, if you find any errors, please let me know. If enough of us like this exercise, maybe we’ll gather up another 334 prompts and continue for the entire year!

(Note from Heidi: Jay included his email in the document he sent, but fearing that will open him up to lots of malicious bots, please use the BI contact form and we will forward your answers to him.)

Daily "Peace Prompts"

January 1, 2024: Aloha translates to love, peace or compassion in Hawaiian. Tell of a time in the past day or two where you extended or received a caring that moved you. When did love reveal more love?

January 2, 2024: Shalom means completeness or wholeness in Hebrew. Recall a moment recently where you felt profound wholeness or things cohering in some blessing or experience. What brought even a small taste of inner shalom?

January 3, 2024: Kapayapaan signifies peace and order in Tagalog. Reflect on an instance lately where you felt aspects of life harmonizing - perhaps work, rest and relationships aligned, bringing order. Where was kapayapaan’s balanced calm present?

January 4, 2024: Comharsanacht means neighborliness in Irish Gaelic. Describe a conversation you shared with someone yesterday that built bridges through questioning and listening. What understanding brought you into comharsanacht, community?

January 5, 2024: Thien An translates as “peaceful place” or “heavenly peace” in Vietnamese. Picture crossing paths with another today in gentle seeing and being seen. What quiet moment made you feel safe, accepted in timeless thien an space?

January 6, 2024: Prasanti means tranquility (especially of the mind) in Sanskrit. Such grace often surprises in routine moments. Tell of one humble insight received today for which you are grateful. Where was prasanti revealed?

January 7, 2024: Shìjiè hépíng signifies world peace in Mandarin. The peace of one ripples to bless all. When recently did you feel connected to the whole of humanity, even strangers? Where was shìjiè hépíng felt?

January 8, 2024: Hózho´ conveys beauty and balance in Navajo. Share an encounter on a high hill or from a low valley where you glimpsed such balance and harmony, dwelling briefly in hózho´ purpose.

January 9, 2024: Itibar means respect and esteem in Azerbaijani [and Turkish]. When lately were you shown unearned itibar that surprised with grace? What did someone’s generous respect gift you?

January 10, 2024: Aníko signifies belonging in Greek. We all long to belong. Tell of a time recently where you felt accepted just as you are. Where could you believe more in mabon’s blessing of self-welcome?

January 11, 2024: Chum-ah-thaan-um is the most commonly used word in Tamil to express the concept of peace. It translates literally to "the state of being equal/tranquil" conveying the meaning of peace or tranquility. Did you find tranquility today? What stimulated it for you?

January 12, 2024: Ubuntu refers to human interdependence and community in Bantu. When recently did you need help from another or gave help in turn? Where could you enhance ubuntu unity further?

January 13, 2024: Ahimsa means non-violence or compassion in Sanskrit. Tell of an act lately where you chose gentle ahimsa over harm. What opportunity presents today to live more kindly?

January 14, 2024: Rahato albal signifies joy, happiness and peace of mind in Arabic. Tell of what brought a moment of  rahato albal at  last light - what sight, sound or kindness lifted your spirit? Consider sharing similar small felicity with another today.

January 15, 2024: Hwah-Yun refers to harmonious existence and balance in Korean. Share a time lately where you felt aligned purposefully with community and creation. How could you tend hwah-yun peace more consciously? 

January 16, 2024: Shanti is peace or tranquility in Sanskrit/Hindi. Offer an instance of shanti refuge today - perhaps feet on earth, birdsong heard or affection received. What subtle solace did you find when life feels all unrest? Recall one or all three grace breaths now - in suffering’s midst, shanti’s near too.

January 17, 2024: Salaam is a greeting and translates as peace in Arabic. Recall a recent salaam greeting exchanged with another. How could remembering shared humanity bring more salaam stillness within? 

January 18, 2024: Frieden means peace and tranquility in German.  Describe a tranquil time today where you felt inner peace. Where were there small moments of grace?

January 19, 2024: Sawubona, is Zulu for “I see you.” It literally means that “I acknowledge your existence.” Did you acknowledge someone today or did someone do that for you?

January 20, 2024: Aniti is Tranquility in Samoan nature's quiet rhythms, where has your spirit found aniti calm today to recall when turmoil tosses?

January 21, 2024; Mottomo is Yoruba for Mediate. Do you see the whole beyond factions? Where could you build a bridge through mottomo mediation now - without waiting to be asked?

January 22, 2024: Sorongsorong in Mandailing (Indonesia) means make peace! Before accusation, do you recall own mistakes also? Sorongsorong forgiveness renews connections across generations. Who from a different generation will you call, perhaps today or tomorrow, to reconcile with?

January 23, 2024: Heiwa signifies harmony and peace in Japanese. With whom did you share heiwa connection today? What deepened understanding between you?

January 24, 2024: Suaimhneas conveys serenity in Irish Gaelic. Picture crossing paths gently with another in síocháin spirit today. What moment made you feel seen and safe?

January 25, 2024: Anyoung haseyo a greeting in Korean translates as “Are you at peace?” How would you answer that today? 

January 26, 2024: Salamis means reconciliation and making peace in Greek. When lately did you mend brokenness between self and another or within self? What inner salamis healing occurred?

January 27, 202: Ohwahyuha conveys thankfulness, freedom and peace in Mohawk. Consider gratitudes given and received today. How does ohwahyuha grace liberate the spirit further?

January 28, 2024: Sundar means beauty and inner peace in Spanish. Where did you feel glimpses of sundar grace today?

January 29, 2024: Ukuhlalisana means Coexistence in Zulu. When have you clung to rigid beliefs? Can ukuhlalisana remind contention's grip in you today to rediscover openhanded understanding?

January 30, 2024: Kính chúc b?n bình an means wishing you peace in Vietnamese. To whom have you extended kính chúc blessings today? What would help a neighbor truly feel an inner bình an?

January 31, 2024: Peace in English means what to you today? 


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