Peace on Earth?
In the weeks since Thanksgiving, we all must have heard those familiar Christmas carols on the radio at some point or other. In addition to reminding us of the religious significance of the Christmas season, they're to be treasured just as much for their reminder of the millennia-old, glorious ideal - that of peace on earth.
One particular Christmas carol asks, "Peace on earth, can it be?" Taking into consideration the recent turmoil in the Middle East, as well as in our own country with the several tragic deaths that have occurred this past week, the songwriters are justified in asking this question. Of course, this is a question posed in much more than a simple Christmas carol; fundamentally, I suppose it's what government revolves around, and the structure of society, and is the incentive to civilize, and much else. But, of course, it's in our nature to deviate, and we often forget the original purpose of what we (and by "we", I am referring to mankind, past, present, and future) set out to do to cultivate a lasting peace.
I realize that often I am too critical, and forget to acknowledge how difficult it is to bring about a global peace, but I have been taught to respond that if someone asks doubtfully "Why?" we should say "Why not?" It's one thing to think about peace, to sing about it, and to hope for it, but it's another to actually move towards it.
I realize that an immediate peace on earth is quite a far-fetched notion. But peace, like love, or trust, or friendship, is not immediate, and yet we all try for these intangible items throughout our lives. We love someone, and we lose them, but we learn to love again. We trust someone, and we are perhaps someday disappointed by them, or by the caliber of the values they live by, or how they define friendship. And yet, most of us, unless we are true hermits, seek out friendship once more.
Obtaining peace is much the same, except, of course, it is a generational issue. The failed friendship between nations that our parents' generation might have encountered is bequeathed to us for us to amend, and hopefully restore. And we might nudge that friendship along to a state of fragile peace and harmony, or we might not. I don't think it'd be despicable if we did any better or worse than our predecessors (though hopefully, we progress and not digress). But I do think it would be if we did nothing at all, if we remained indifferent.
Certainly, the average person is limited in what they can do to aid in this world vision of peaceful coexistence of all people, be it internationally, or domestically. But I really do believe that for those of us who are not world leaders (which constitutes the significant majority of our world population), or who are not emergency responders mediating a hostage situation, or helping people recover from the recent tragic Christmas massacre, there is a role for us to play. We can be listeners, we can be real friends, we can bite our tongue before we hurt someone's feelings - we can be the best people we can be. And I believe in paying it forward, the idea that kindness and compassion is contagious and so by showing affection and concern for one, we'll inspire them to show the same to another.
Idealistic, I know, but I ask you why not? I'd rather live my life to the tune of an overplayed Christmas carol with an idyllic message, than to that of a funeral march. So, one more time, I echo, "Peace on earth, can it be?" I'll leave you to respond.
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