Peace on Earth...
...goodwill to men.
Sunday my son and I lit the candle of Peace on the Advent wreath in our church. I couldn't help but think of how little peace there is in the world. Last week too many innocent people died. The people of San Bernardino immediately came to mind, but violence all over all the world is on the up rise. Where is the peace on earth?
It feels to me like me are a culture that is living in fear. While I don't belittle that fear, it's not healthy and it doesn't help the cause of peace. Fearing those just because they look different or are of a different religion is just adding to the problem. Should we ban people because of their religion? Should we segregate people based on their race? Both have been done before, and if we look at our history, it hasn't turned out all that well. Not only is it morally wrong (at least in my book), but it only exacerbates the problem. Exclusion has never been a satisfactory answer.
We are all different from one another, yet we are also all the same. It's hard to conceive, but the blood that ran through the veins of Anne Frank was fundamentally no different than the blood that ran through the veins of Hitler. (Ok, so they might not have been the same blood type, but you get the point, don't you?) Radically different people, yet the building blocks of their physical being were pretty much the same.
It's easy to fear what we don't know. It's easy to let fear overwhelm us; especially with the constant images we see and hear in media. How can we have peace when there is so much fear? Quite simply we can't.
We CAN choose not to be afraid. Fear holds us back. Hope and Peace keep us moving forward. (And not so coincidentally are the first two candles that are lit on the Advent wreath). We can acknowledge what fears we have, but we cannot let them run our lives.
I recall the words of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.” Hate and fear ARE strong, but we CAN choose to let our own voices be stronger. We don't ignore the dangers of this world, but we cannot allow them to overwhelm and destroy us. We can acknowledge our differences and embrace our similarities.
It is up to us, as another holiday song resounds: "Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now. With every step I take Let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment with peace eternally. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."