I Heard Something About Peace On Earth
Sometimes I feel like we have given up on the notion of peace. On Christmas, it seems appropriate to ponder such a thing. At times, there is this notion that peace means weakness. That peace is a giving up on individuality. That the cost of peace is conformity. What I do know, is that peace is not possible for the whole earth, but peace, is very possible, on earth.
I believe the song went like this. “Peace on earth, goodwill to men”. Do these two things go hand in hand? Most likely. The Teacher said it with some authority and advised that before prayer, if you have anything which is not peace with your brother or sister, you should handle the situation with others before you approach the throne of God. I do not know how this could be simpler, or more direct.
This notion of the light of our mind. Whether those we have an issue with are here, deceased, in another country, or just down the street, we can offer forgiveness and love by surrounding them with light in our minds. Is this a physical light? No. Does this affect them immediately? No. What it does, is give us a way to change our reaction to the thought of them, which, in turn, will change the way we react to them. Or even just the thought (in the case of the parted or distant) of them. We can wish them well, wish them health, wish for them the things we would like for ourselves, but from a place of peace.
This notion of giving beyond reason. When a person does a thing that directly affects us, the only thing we can change is our reaction. Honestly, some people are just on a different level of consciousness than we would prefer. For some, the only person in their world is that person. Which is fine. Use these people for what they can be used for. Not our ability to change others, but our ability to react with love. When someone gives you the finger in traffic a mile down the road, offer to let them in your lane when they need to change lanes. When someone snubs you at work, go out of your way to speak well of them to a co worker. When a spouse (not mine, ever, of course) presents a request that seems unreasonable to you, fulfill that request while smiling and end the task with a kiss and smile.
This notion of a butterfly. There is a theory that the flap of the butterfly’s wing might cause a tsunami on the other side of the world by the events it sets in motion. It is a neat theory. But what if it does not. What if it is just a butterfly. That is fine, too. Your peaceful actions, your random acts of kindness, your wishing well for others may not change the world. It will change your world. Sometimes, speaking of the potential for changing the life of another with a simple smile, is as coercive an action as the threat of an eternity in hell if we do ill towards others. When we let kindness be kindness alone, we may not change the world, but we will change our worlds. And peace “on earth” does not mean peace “in all the earth”.
This Christmas, and in the coming days, my wish is peace. Perhaps not through peace treaties. Perhaps not through laying down of arms. Perhaps, though, through simple, intentional kindnesses, both given and received. There will be rounds of choruses this day exclaiming, “Peace to you”. In return there will be rounds of choruses this day exclaiming, “And also to you”. We cannot create peace for the world. If we could, it would have been done before now. We can, however, create peace for ourselves. We do it with every breath, every thought, and every step. And in doing so, we will beacons of peace for others to see, like a lighthouse in dark night’s storm. Not guiding a ship, not changing its course, but by providing a reference for only the sake of those sailing.