Real Peace Comes From WithinBlog / Produced by The High Calling
There is a flat valley between two mountain ranges just east of Creede, Colorado. The valley is about a mile wide, and the Rio Grande river meanders back and forth through it. My in-laws began coming to this valley in the 1950s. They and their friends would walk down to the river to wade and fish. In the late 1970s, they, along with a dozen or so other families, built small summer cabins and homes in a part of this valley known as Moonshine Mesa. Over the next ten years, more homes were built there.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon at Moonshine Mesa in 1985. Now, we vacation there most summers with our girls.
Around the year 2000, wealthy people began buying plots of land along the river. Within a few years, all the land on the river had been purchased, leaving no access to the river for the people living on Moonshine Mesa. We have to drive down the valley to get into the river and fish. It’s inconvenient and a little sad for the families who have been coming to this valley for so many years, but the people who bought the land are well within their legal rights to refuse to grant access to the river. And, perhaps liability issues even make that unavoidable.
In 2005, a very wealthy man purchased all of the river property opposite Moonshine Mesa. He turned his land into an exclusive fishing resort for high-powered executives and others who can afford to stay there. One night this man stood by the banks of the Rio Grande and looked up toward the mountains. In the distance he saw the lights from the houses on Moonshine Mesa. He didn’t like the lights. He felt they were spoiling the view for him and his clients. Never mind that the people on Moonshine Mesa had been there 30 years longer than he.
His solution was to build a half mile long, ten foot high berm along his back fence, which borders Moonshine Mesa. He calculated the angles well. Because the land slopes away from Moonshine Mesa toward the river, his berm blocks all the light from the houses for those standing down by the river. Now, he and his executive friends can sit by the river, the few times a year that they are there, and not be bothered by the porch lights of the hoi polloi.
I assume he is happy with his view now.
The price for his happiness was the destruction of the view of the river for every family on Moonshine Mesa. The rich man counted the cost and decided this was not too high a price for us to pay. Once we saw land gently running to the Rio Grande. Now we see a mound of dirt and rocks.
People sometimes have the legal right to do things that would not be considered righteous by any reasonable reckoning or standard. So how do you find peace and satisfaction when there is no external recourse for an injustice?
I could list a page full of exercises and suggestions:
- Recalling the gentle words of Jesus in scripture.
- Deep breathing exercises.
- Dynamite the berm. (Just kidding!)
I’ve never found suggestions like those particularly helpful. The truth is, your peace and happiness have to come from within you. If your happiness is based on external things, then what peace you may find in this life will be a fragile thing, regularly shattered by others.
But, if your peace and happiness come from within, it will be very difficult for rich men with a penchant for building walls to hurt you.