Jeanette Baldridge’s

Column for June 3, 2004

Voices of Maine

‘Imagine all the people living life in peace’
Birch trees come into being slowly through the fog, then the pond and finally the birds in the feeder just outside my window.

It feels as if I am painting the scene into being from my imagination. And, according to the theory of quantum mechanics, maybe I am. While I don’t pretend to really understand this complicated idea, many prominent physicists claim that humans exist in a world created, at least in part, by our own observation.

There are several famous experiments suggesting that the corporeal world is shaped by human imagination. In other words, according to these theories, we live in an evolving universe always in the process of creation, as opposed to a objective universe “out there” somewhere waiting for us to discover it.

In his book “Perfect Health,” Deepak Chopra expounds on this idea. He cites an experiment in which cats were raised in a controlled area with no vertical lines. When they matured and were released from their confinement, the cats were unable to see the vertical lines common in the everyday world. Their eyes had not “learned” to see what did not exist in their environment.

While all this is interesting in its own right, to me at least, in a broader sense it has a great deal of significance for everyone. What if this theory is true? What if humanity can actually change the world just by our perception of it? What if we could “unlearn” to see the world as a violent place? This is, no doubt, the basis of a lot of “new age” philosophy, but wasn’t it Jesus, after all, who said, if you had the faith of a single mustard seed, you could move a mountain?

I definitely want to move a mountain – the mountain of hatred, revenge, killing and blindness that has overtaken the mind-set of many cultures, if not the whole world population. What are we thinking? It’s the Hatfields and the McCoys on a worldwide scale, with no end in sight.

The events of the last few years, and more recently, have been too horrible to contemplate. The beheading of Nicholas Berg posted on a Web site linked to al Qaeda on May 11 was incomprehensible. And there doesn’t seem to be a thing individuals can do about what’s going on. A feeling of helplessness prevails among the people I encounter. Do we have to just sit by and wait until the cancer of violence and hatred reaches our front doors? What can I do, I’ve asked myself, other than pretend everything is okay?

But maybe we aren’t as helpless as it seems. What if we took a cue from quantum mechanics and changed our perception of the world? What if we collectively imagined peace? It wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened. Remember the Harmonic Convergence? Among other things, the Harmonic Convergence, August 1987, was a time when thousands of people congregated worldwide to visualize peace.

Shortly afterward, President Reagan visited Russia and told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” Never would I have believed such a thing could happen.

But by the end of 1989, the Berlin Wall had come down and it wasn’t long before communism had all but evaporated. I didn’t dream then that something worse than communism would come along to threaten the world’s peace, yet here we are in the midst of horror and much in need of a miracle.

If creative visualization (or prayer with a positive image of the outcome) worked once, it could work again.

Of course, there is no evidence of a causal connection between the Harmonic Convergence and the fall of communism. And there is seldom evidence that prayers are answered, but that doesn’t mean prayer and visualization don’t work.

Thousands of cloistered monks and nuns spend their lives in prayer. I used to wonder why they didn’t do something useful. Now, I know how useful their work is. What would the world be like without their prayers? If ever we needed help, it is now. And although it seems as if we are helpless to change the course of world events, I believe we can make a difference by believing in peace and visualizing a world without war and hatred. I’m not sure I know what that would look like, but it seems as if we could begin with a cessation of killing and fighting. We could imagine children walking on streets without fear. We could imagine world leaders shaking hands and having respect for each other’s ideas. We could imagine full bellies and quiet homes where families can gather and be safe.

The birches that came into being out of the mist that morning might not have manifested from just my imagination, but I’ve spent a good number of mornings imaging other things. Peace, for one. I can’t just do nothing.

Mornings are my time for creating. Maybe you’ll join me. I know there’s power in numbers.

Jeanette Baldridge is a writer and teacher who lives in West Paris, who is a regular contributor to this column. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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