Last month, I went to Downtown Omaha’s Old Market interested in a very specific question for anyone who cared to talk with me: DOES YOUR WORLDVIEW BRING YOU PEACE?
To draw people into conversation, I simply sat around on the edge of a flower bed on a corner holding a sign with that very question. It was actually a dry-erase board with a place for people to give their answer as a tally mark on either the “no” or “yes” side. Some people simply cast their answer and got on with their day without engaging in conversation. These I asked to be marked in blue. Those who wanted to stay and chat about it I had mark their answer in magenta.
Whether people truly have deep, lasting peace and how their worldview affects that inner state is such an important question, but people don’t seem to talk about very much. It’s kind of awkward and intimate. Saying yes seems like we have all life’s answers and we don’t want to risk someone thinking that because then we’ll have to articulate, or worse yet, defend, our position. Saying no is super vulnerable and basically admits we don’t have any of life’s important answers figured out, and no one wants to seem like they have any major issues, uncertainties, or inner disturbances. So, we just put on Netflix and try not to think or talk about those types of things too much.
Well, I figured I could put some thought into the question of what people would need for their worldview to bring them peace and go talk to people about it. After all, for such a vulnerable subject, it’s good to talk with someone who’s not self-righteously judgmental which I’m typically not (unless I beat you at a yard game).
So, I sat down for a while and came up with a way to walk people through answering the question for themselves. I came up with every essential component I can imagine someone must have in order for them to be at peace. If any one of these is missing, I can only imagine it would seriously compromise the person’s deep, abiding sense of peace.
First of all, summarize your worldview. That is, how do you view the world and your place in it?
Now, are you at peace? Here are the four criteria to being ultimately at peace:
- Are you concerned or anxious about things going on right now in your life or in the world?
- Think about your death. Do you have any concerns about death? Are you worried about or bothered by what happens to you after you die?
- Think about the worst things you’ve done. Do you have any concerns about the things you’ve done wrong? Is there a gap between who you have been and who you should be?
- Does your life matter? Are you concerned there is no ultimate purpose/meaning in your existence? Do you matter now and forever?
It’s reasonable to conclude that any person who is confidently unconcerned about any of the four items above has ultimate and lasting peace in this life.
Now, this doesn’t mean they are correct. They may very well have reason to be concerned about one or more of the items above. In that case, they feel at peace, but are really not. I liken such a scenario to someone peacefully going about their daily business, blissfully unaware that their country has just had war declared against them by a nation much larger and more powerful. This person feels they are at peace, but by definition they are at war; they just don’t know it or haven’t admitted it. So it is a separate question (not to be considered here) as to whether you are concerned and whether you have reason to be concerned about the items above.
I think this exercise and the questions contained in it are important enough to warrant 30 minutes of your life. I encourage you to go through the questions in quiet by yourself and give them careful consideration.
These are kind of personal questions, so please feel free to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of commenting your thoughts publicly, or private message me on my Facebook page to discuss. It would bless me to know what you thought of this exercise.