Kathy Ormsby, twenty-one, a university student and record-setting distance runner, lies paralysed in the hospital as family and friends react in stunned disbelief to her attempted suicide. Kathy’s whole life has been a series of successes. She has always been a straight-A student. In her final year of high school, she graduated top of her class of six hundred with an unprecedented 99 per cent average and was honoured by the mayor of her county. “You get a Kathy Ormsby once in a lifetime,” said Ralph Robertson, her high school principal.
In a women’s championship, Kathy was favoured to win after setting her collegiate record earlier in the year. After dropping out at the 6,500-metre mark, she jogged forlornly from the stadium and, according to police, kept on for two more blocks until she came to the city’s main bridge, and there she threw herself over. Apparently, she couldn’t face what she considered being a failure. Sadly, multiple spinal fractures will prevent any possibility of Kathy ever walking again.
In Oxford, England, Olivia Channon, twenty-two, daughter of a British cabinet minister, had just finished her final exams at the end of her course at Oxford University when she joined other students and friends for a night of celebration. At 2.30 a.m. she lay down to sleep. Five hours later she was found dead.
In a quiet suburban home in Sydney, there sits on a mantelpiece a shrine decorated with trophies for public speaking won by a very promising young man. But a seemingly very confident Jeff, who won these awards is no longer around to enjoy them. He took his life and left behind a broken-hearted family.
Second only to road accidents, many of which are caused by alcohol and drugs, suicide is the most common killer of Western young people. On the TV programme Too Young To Die, one young Australian said that she had tried to commit suicide several times. When asked why she did so, Meagan said, “At the time I was looking for something through drugs and couldn’t find it—which was sort of ultimate peace.”
People will do almost anything to find peace and will self-destruct if they can’t. Thousands kill themselves every year, and millions waste away because they can’t find peace with each other. Peace isn’t found in technology. We have learned how to put a man on the moon but not how to live together in peace.
Neither is it found in affluence. Olivia Channon, of Oxford, had everything that position and money could buy but also turned to drugs.
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Success of itself doesn’t bring lasting peace either. Len Bias, a college basketball star, was another extremely promising young American athlete. At the height of his college career, he died of heart failure—caused by cocaine intoxication. And he, Kathy and Jeff are only three of many outwardly successful people who apparently have never discovered the secret of inner peace.
Find Your Peace
How then can we find peace?
- Peace is found in having something worthwhile to live for. Peace is a matter of the heart, and success, athletic prowess, academic and technological achievement, popularity and affluence—the things that our culture puts so much emphasis on—do not, as an end in themselves, meet the needs of the heart. Peace comes from using abilities to help achieve higher goals.
- Peace is found in acceptance. We’re all familiar with the prayer, May God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. A very wise prayer, for as long as we fight against circumstances, we cannot find peace. Once we accept these events, we not only find peace but can turn them into opportunities for growth and stepping stones towards success.
- Peace is found in relationships. Inner peace begins with the right relationship with ourselves, which starts with a healthy self-image, which is formed primarily in childhood. As none of us had a perfect upbringing, none of us has a perfect self-image. We can, however, strengthen our self-concept by building on our successes and not our failures, keeping in mind that the only real failure is not to get up one more time than we have been knocked down.
- Peace is found in healthy relationships. To love and to be loved is vital for finding inner peace. Thus, it is important to resolve any and all impaired relationships, including those from our formative years. As long as we nurse resentments and fail to forgive those whom we feel have hurt us, we cannot find real inner peace. And if we bury these feelings, we may eventually pay for it through physical sickness.
Source: Dick Innes