By Sadie Wilbur

The sun warms my skin as I step out of the car and, with a deep breath, the fresh morning air fills my lungs and wakes my senses. It’s the same walk into the Optimist Daily office that I make every morning, but today I stop and notice a white pole standing to the right of the entrance that reads, “May Peace Prevail On Earth.”

A small gold plaque below indicates that the pole represents a peace prize from the United Nations Association (UNA) of Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties, the oldest chapter in the nation.

As a naturally curious person, I decided my coffee could wait and I popped my head into my Managing Director Kristy’s office to ask about the peace prize.

I learned that for more than 70 years, the UNA of Santa Barbara has engaged locally with important global issues, such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster, climate change, and its disproportionate consequences, and educating the community about the plight of millions of refugees internationally. 

To celebrate its 70th year and honor contributions made by local people working toward a more peaceful world, the UNA presented the inaugural 2017 Santa Barbara Peace Prize to Rinaldo Brutoco, the founding president of the World Business Academy and the publisher of the Optimist Daily, to commemorate the measurable progress he’s made in creating a more peaceful and just world.

On this note, I wanted to share with you some memorable quotes from Rinaldo Brutoco’s moving acceptance speech, titled “Peace: A New Definition,” for this week’s Optimist View. I hope you enjoy.

Highlights from Rinaldo’s Acceptance Speech:

“As we start tonight, the men’s choir sang that song, He’s Just A Boy, from Les Miserables. Les Miserables was written by Victor Hugo. Victor Hugo is also extremely well known for having observed that nothing, nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. That’s sort of where we ought to start tonight. Peace is an idea whose time has come.

I’ll tell you a short story about Winston Churchill. In the Battle of Britain … And I’m sharing this with you because I think there’s a lot of darkness around the edges of not only US society but increasingly global society. Since I’m an optimist at heart, I’d love to share this story with you about Winston Churchill.

In the middle of the Battle of Britain, which as you recall was when the bombs were coming down, and Luftwaffe was literally destroying the town, and buzz bombs and V2 rockets were hitting, and London was on flames.  In the middle of this flaming mess called London, Churchill emerges out of the rubble, and a reporter runs up to him with a microphone. “Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister, what shall we do?” Churchill looked at him and said, “We shall be victorious, of course.” We shall be victorious, of course. “Mr. Churchill, how could you … Mr. Prime Minister, how could you say that?” He said, “The opposite conclusion’s absolutely unthinkable.”

The opposite conclusion of peace is absolutely unthinkable. That’s why there is a UNA because the opposite conclusion is unthinkable.  We have to have peace.

Pope Francis, in his May 24th, 2015 encyclical, Laudato si, which means praise to you in Latin, but the subtitle was On Care For Our Environment. What he wrote in that was that the environment is now a moral issue. How do these two tie together? How does Pope Francis, who by the way based his encyclical on the work of St. Francis many centuries earlier, how does that inform who we are today? The answer, that I think he correctly identified, is that the environmental crisis that we’re going through absolutely impacts the poorest of the poor the worst. The people who pay the biggest price for environmental degradation are usually the people on the very bottom of the socioeconomic scale.

The definition of peace, which we would’ve been willing to settle for a decade or two ago, was peace is the absence of armed conflict. But we now know that’s not true. We now know that peace is not just the absence of armed conflict, peace is something much, much bigger than that.

Peace is… the ability to live from your heart, connecting with the hearts of others without the threat of personal or collective violence, and with the belief that tomorrow will, in fact, be a better day. That’s the new definition of peace.

The World Business Academy is about taking that level of awareness, that level of consciousness out into the world and helping things happen that business is uniquely capable of doing.

If business takes its talent, its skill, and its training, and applies it to the most fundamental questions of society, and does it from a point of view of service to society, we all win. Frankly, we shouldn’t accept anything less. We shouldn’t.

What we’re doing, is we’re trying to come up with a new definition of what business does, which runs parallel to this new definition of peace.

You see, if peace is about more than the absence of conflict, business is about more than the making of profit. They’re parallel. I really hope that as we think about these themes, these twin themes, that we don’t give business the pass any longer of saying, “Well, they’re just there to make money, and that’s not what they do.” That’s not right.

This new definition of peace is about how we integrate with each other as humans, how we resonate, and how we integrate and resonate with the biosphere. That’s the new definition of peace. Business has an absolute responsibility to lead that because it deals best with change, and change is the thing that’s killing us.

There is no single challenge on the face of the earth I’ve ever heard about, read about, or seen, and I read a lot. I’ve never heard, read about, or seen any challenge on the face of the planet that we cannot solve with today’s technology and resources. Period.

We have to raise the standard. We have to demand of the business community that it act not only with competence, but with a compassion for the communities within which it operates. It is absolutely essential.

Why I’m going to this length, is to try and weave a new awareness that you can hold that if your expectations of business are higher, they will rise to meet them. If you change your awareness, your consciousness, of the definition of peace as the place within you that resonates within the place within me, where we all are divine, where we’re all conscious, where we’re all just one.

That speed of change is causing our entire political system to basically go into a catatonic reaction. It is frozen. So, we cannot expect them to lead us. We must lead them.

The best way to lead them is to lead through business because if we can push on the business community, to create the outcomes we know are just, to create the outcomes which we think are the new definition of peace, if we can do that, if we have the courage, and the tenacity, and the staying power to do that, we will turn this around. That’s why I’m an optimist.

Find yourself asking yourself this question every morning. If I embrace the new definition of peace, what would I do next? How would today look? It turns out, that day is a brighter day than looking to see how you can stop violence from occurring. I do believe that as consciousness shifts, violence will become less prevalent.

But you see, if we shift our consciousness, what they will do, business which includes media, will begin to shift its consciousness. As it does, everything around you changes. We have this saying in the Academy for 30 years, “There’s nothing you can change, literally there’s nothing you can change, but yourself.” It’s remarkable, however, when you change yourself it seems like everything changes around you.  Changing yourself is everything

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind, to take your health and happiness and prosperity to every person you meet and share it. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past, and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give everyone you meet a smile. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself you’ve no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.  

That’s peace.