?Let there be peace on earth,? country crooner Vince Gill sings, ?and let it begin with me!?
It’s a song from my childhood, lyrics that come back to me every time I hear the phrase ?peace on earth.? This Christmas season, I’m finding myself humming it much more frequently than ?Jingle Bells,? ?We Three Kings,? or other holiday classics.
And That’s a good thing: whether the song was intended seasonally or not, Gill has a point. War, hatred, division, and poverty take an enormous toll on many of our brothers and sisters, both at home and around the world. We all want peace on earth, but It’s difficult to know where to start.
Sometimes It’s tempting to point the finger. The bad guys?the perpetrators?are often easy to single out. They need to stop, they need to change, they need to tune in to their better human nature and shed the selfishness, bitterness, and greed. They need to see the light. And while maybe That’s true, assuming that peace can never be achieved until someone else becomes as ?enlightened? as we are is a truly limiting point of view.
Because let’s face it; we all think we’re in the right, or at least we don’t like to admit when we’re in the wrong. Yet the small hurts we give in the microcosm of our personal universe may even be comparable in scale to bigger injustices that happen worldwide. How do we treat the small number of people we interact with in our own lives?
One of my favourite holiday stories is that of the Christmas Day truce that occurred in the trenches in Europe in 1914. British and German troops suspended warfare for a day to share a common humanity, a common hope, a common desire for peace. In today’s fractured society, we all have differing values, ideas, and beliefs; there’s frequently an undercurrent of anger during exchanges of ideas, even among like-minded people. We simply don’t understand why others don’t agree with us?but do we need to act mean-spiritedly about it?
Like the soldiers in World War I, we can make the holiday one of peace and harmony despite our differences. But the guns don’t need to recommence firing when the last eggnog has been drunk. Perhaps a more peaceful attitude toward others near and far?especially toward those who disagree with us or annoy us?would be a genuine way to carry the spirit of the season into the new year.
Like always, during the holidays I’ll join in the hopes and prayers for peace on earth. But this Christmas, I’ll give it a real chance?and let it begin with me.