Peace on Earth

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…, mother and child sleep in heavenly peace…. Familiar words to a Christmas carol, probably the most commonly sung carol of all; it often moves people to tears as we yearn for the reality of peace on earth where every child, every one of us, is cared for.

 The carol, sung in community with others, seems to tell the story of how we all wish our world to be. In the best of all scenarios, this is how it would be, with everyone relaxed and singing as one voice.

 While that may be our intended focus, we are distracted from that yearning as we are caught up in advertising that encourages us to make each other happy by buying things to give each other. One TV ad showed a brand new little white car decked out like a package with a big red bow on top. The woman receiving the gift from her man was thrilled. As they embraced, a bigger, classier car drove by, and her look changed to disappointment and his to shame. Suddenly, the little white car was no longer good enough.

 Just as suddenly, that ad seemed like a crime committed against the season that tries to figure out how we can realize Peace on Earth.

 At the other extreme is O. Henry’s classic, “The Gift of the Magi,” which captured the essence of gifts of love that were much more than enough. (Easy to Google if you need a refresher.) The difference is between an insatiable need for more that can never bring peace, and a deeper need to love that makes peace possible.

 This year, I see hopeful signs that people are waking up in our country and around the world. More people are speaking up, organizing to get their message across, and being listened to, however small the steps toward peace may seem to be. Situations that were once reacted to automatically with censure and violence now include more listening responses as communities attempt to see the big picture and reframe their agendas to provide a peaceful, safe, enriching life for all people, especially children.

 We can go a long way toward keeping each other well and generating peace by continuing to speak up where necessary and listening respectfully to each other.

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