Being that tomorrow is the last day of 2013, I thought I’d come out of hibernation to share some thoughts that I’ve had over this holiday season. I’ve been thinking about the idea of PEACE. How do we achieve it, and what does it look like for ourselves, and in our communities and nations.
I was planning on writing this yesterday, as the snow was falling gently outside and all was quiet, I had my candles lit, and a record playing quietly in the background. And then a mouse decided to run across the room and my peaceful evening was lost. Thankfully, Zoltan came to the rescue with his bb gun and a reserve of mouse traps, and by the end of the night it was Zoltan – 2, Mouse – 1. (There was still one mouse running around when we went to bed despite our best efforts).
So today I’m back to revisit this elusive idea of:
Peace: 1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. 2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
I think that the idea of peace is closely tied with the idea of community, and that at the foundation of both is the idea of love. We make peace with each other through acts of love and kindness, and that fosters community.
It seems that at a time of the year when love, joy and peace are celebrated, there are countless stories the opposite qualities at work: hate, anger, and strife. We are consumed with ourselves and our individualism to the point where we don’t think of how our actions affect those around us, and often our actions are self-seeking. It’s in our human nature to be selfish, but also in our human nature is the deeply rooted capacity to show love. It’s how we feel most fulfilled: to love and be loved.
Let’s explore the practical side of the peacemaking process. I think it must start with the examination of ourselves. As an introvert by nature, I’m quite accustomed to the art of introspection, which can also be my downfall when I neglect to outwardly process my thoughts, ideas and feelings with those around me. But everyone can use a healthy dose of looking within to better themselves.
To make peace with ourselves, it may mean facing regrets. Past negative experiences that we can’t let go of will prevent us from moving forward. Forgive yourself, and let it go.
We also need to stop worrying. Fear and worry has taken a huge part in our culture. We have insurance for everything, saving plans, vaccinations, and countless other things that are supposed to help us not worry about our house, money, health, and future. I’m not saying those things are bad; they have their place. But worrying about life will not change anything, and it will certainly not give us peace. A wise man once said, “…do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? … So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Once we have peace with ourselves, how do we make peace with those around us? Many people may have answers to this question, but at the core, I think that in order to have peace, we have to get rid of bitterness, envy, hate, etc; anything that may be between us and another person. When we can forgive each other, we act in love, and that is when community can happen. And when community happens, the world becomes a better place.
I know these are all fairly simple thoughts, but I hope that as 2014 begins, you will be encouraged to be a peace maker. I think we can all agree that the world needs more peace, and although the troubles of the world can be quite overwhelming, if we can make peace with those around us and encourage others to do the same, great things can happen.
Happy New Year, friends.