*Dona nobis pacem. Grant us peace. Sounds like church, or Christmas. Not everyday words, but nice. Like Namaste, Shalom and Aloha, Peace is at once a greeting and a good-bye, a well wish for you and a hope for all, a concept and a reality. Peace is something to strive for and enjoy along the way; to both dream of and experience.
Peace doesn’t get much press these days except during the holidays. That’s when illuminated doves and signs spelling out PEACE and old-school Peace Signs come out of hiding along with Jesus and the manger and Santa, as if they all were members of a high school debate team that still gets together once a year.
The lights and decorations are beautiful and remind us that it is a special season and most of us do slow down a bit; try to be a little more patient and understanding and peaceful. By New Year’s Day the lights are gone and the debate team is again confined to the box and peace goes back into hibernation with the others, both in physical space and (perhaps?) in our hearts. But, Peace is not a Christmastime thing!
For years every time we asked my dad what he wanted for Christmas or a birthday he would answer exactly the same way, “Peace and quiet.” Of course we dismissed that as him being difficult and it never occurred to us that what he really wanted was peace and quiet and that he would have considered it a good gift if we had just gone away for a couple hours!
Finding a bit of peace or quiet in today’s society is boundlessly more difficult than it was back in the days of three channels and only AM radio. The constant barrage of information … well, let’s just call it noise, emanating from every angle and every device, sign, pod, marquee, phone, screen, earbud, earphone, crosswalk signal, GPS, watch, and telescreen make peace or quiet difficult to obtain. Even driving – once the nirvana of solitude – is now so encumbered by the technology that we are actually more connected while tooling down the road in the middle of nowhere than almost anywhere else!
How can we as a people achieve ever-elusive ‘world peace’ if we have not found peace as individuals? How can a person be at peace if they only rarely experience peace, or quiet? How can a person formulate responsible opinions when they don’t take time to think about an issue – discuss it with themselves, if you will – because they are continually listening to someone else’s opinion?
How can we make a difference? Take PEACE out of the box and leave it out all year.
Take PEACE out of the box and leave it out all year. Dangle it from your mirror or around your neck. Light it up and hang it on the porch. Say it when you end a conversation.
If you really want to get wild, flash a 60s peace sign. Use those things as a reminder to think about peace and envision peace and find some peace for yourself. Leave the phone at home when you go for a walk or a drive; it is just a toy no matter how much you use it for work or otherwise justify it! Or call a friend instead of texting and have a conversation or a discussion to help you think things through, enabling you to be at peace with a considered stand/opinion/decision.
Do not mistake complacency or calm for peace. Being at peace doesn’t mean doing nothing – it means that if you choose to act the action is borne of reflection, research and resolve. Peace doesn’t mean never getting upset or emotional – it means developing an informed and considered belief that the cause about which you are upset is important and worth advocating for.
Death and taxes – we know they’re coming. To that short list of absolutes, we can add:
- You must have homeowner’s insurance if you have a mortgage.
- You can’t win if you don’t play.
- If someone tries to give you money, take it.
- World peace, or national peace, or familial peace cannot occur without personal peace.
Peace is not a Christmastime thing! Seek it out, practice it, visualize it, be it and you will spread it.
– REENO –