Working toward peace

Let there be peace on earth.

Those words make up a simple but powerful phrase. It’s one that’s been used in song lyrics, touted in political stump speeches for decades, used by beauty contestants vying for those all-important titles and preached from many a pulpit during the Christmas season and beyond.

But these should be far more than passive words, used only to rally emotions. They should be active words, strongly spewed from our mouths and embedded in our hearts, something strived for every day

With all the turmoil escalating in America and abroad today, peace is exactly what we should all be working toward — in our communities, our states, our nation and, most especially, in our own hearts.

As simplistic as it seems, it’s time all of us became active participants in making peace a priority. And in so many ways, initiating peace starts with giving love.

While there are many differences that separate us as human beings, the one bond that ties us together is love — love we can give and love we can accept. Funny thing is we often think we cannot extend love to those who we see as different from ourselves when, in truth, we can stand up for what we believe in or understand to be true without being hateful, spiteful or destructive. Nothing says we can’t assert our beliefs yet love those who don’t share them.

It’s really true what the song says: Peace on earth must begin with us. But where, we often wonder, can peace be found? And, can it truly be had?

We believe the answer is yes, but it won’t come without sacrifice and, at the very least, a modicum of selflessness.

For some of us that means giving up our addictions, like alcohol, drugs, food or an obsessive love of money and power. For others it means giving up abusive tendencies. And for still others, it means being satisfied — and grateful — for what we have rather than wanting that which we don’t.

It also means setting aside our prejudices, looking beyond race, economic status and lifestyle to the heart of an individual. Forgiving past transgressions and moving forward, with the goal of peace in mind, is also important if we are ever going to move away from strife toward peace.

The tumultuous times we now live in all boil down to a lack of harmony among men who have no internal peace and no respect for their fellow man.

If we want peace, we must be willing to give up the attitudes that boil within us to find harmony, a common ground. Can we forgive the transgressions that have been committed against us and others to ensure peace? Are we willing to walk in step with those we don’t agree with, looking together toward a brighter and more harmonious tomorrow, all for the greater good?

There’s no better time of year to start than now, with Christmas just around the corner. This time of year, we all seem to find the better person within us, smiling more, finding patience we didn’t know we had, finding laughter we thought we’d forgotten and digging out love and compassion that has been buried under heaping piles of hurt, anger and fear.

What better time of year than now to find peace and to offer peace?

Our prayer is that there will be peace across the globe, a peace that begins in our own households, extends to our communities, our state, our nation and, eventually, the world. While it seems an insurmountable goal, we believe with determination, a whole lot of faith and acts of kindness we can slowly but surely make a dent in the turmoil holding us in its grasp.

Think of the amazing possibilities real peace can offer, and then pray for peace, work for it and make it happen. Would that not be the best Christmas present we could give ourselves and others?