Peace, both internal and external depend very much on understanding. It seems cliché to say that we fear what we do not understand, but in many ways it's very true. Even if what we do not understand lies inside of us. Taking a step towards understanding indicates a patience and love that, though you may not always feel it, exists briefly in that moment. And those are two things that everyone could use a little more of.
Recently I had the pleasure of hosting a traveller from Belgium for the weekend through the CouchSurfing Site. It was such a fascinating experience talking to him about his perceptions of this country. There were many things that I just took for granted that he was questioning. I got to see my world from someone else's eyes and it was a very enlightening experience.
The best part was that I now understand not only my own culture a little better, but I got to understand myself a little better as well. In a lot of ways we are a product of our environment - even if we get to choose how we let that environment mould us. Other people, other cultures are sometimes so strange to us that we just say that 'they must be this or that' without really taking the time to understand. Same goes for people of other religions.
Taking the time to understand another person, culture or religion outside of our realm of experience can open our eyes to new horizons and, perhaps, even lead us into a further understanding of ourselves.
What if we apply this same understanding inward? In the search to make myself the person I have always wanted myself to be I have learned that there is much about myself that I haven't taken the time to really understand. I may be looking in and deciding what needs to be changed, but to be able to make the changes awareness and love are not going to be enough to be able reach my goals. I need to understand - really understand - who I am and why I do what I do.
I got to be the person I am now through a variety of experiences in my life. Each one was a building block of my current personality. If I want to change that I need to understand how I got to be who I am and then I can alter the foundation on which I stand.
So much easier to say than do, but it's what I do every day.