During the holiday season we often hear the words, Peace on Earth. Right now with all of the uncertainty, violence, magnified fear and suspicion of people from different cultures and religions added to the fear of political changes that may or may not affect our future adversely; it may be difficult to be at peace, find peace, or even make peace.
What is the difference in these three activities? Is being a peacemaker, having peace or making peace? Is it being a victim to promote peace? Or is it a combination of several behaviors or attributes?
Peacemaking as a Child
From my early childhood I heard in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” I was inspired to be a peacemaker.
I tried to be kind, thoughtful, and empathetic when someone was having a bad day or was grumpy. I tried to be compassionate and understand their behavior as being due to stress, sadness, emotional pain, or some other factor. Usually I felt like I was advancing my goal by at least promoting peace. Was this being a peacemaker?
Peacemaking As a Nurse
Being a nurse I understood that illness can cause people to act quite differently than they would normally. Peacemaking as a nurse sometimes involved extending empathy and compassion to those who were stressed or anxious.
Since patients were sometimes upset about something usually beyond their control. I encouraged them to discuss what was bothering them and either help them understand the circumstances and the “whys” of the subject. Or I encouraged them to speak with a chaplain or supervisor to “promote their peace.” Is this a form of being a peacemaker?
Peacemaking as a Wife
When I married my husband I continued in my efforts to be a peacemaker. When I said something that upset him I apologized. When he was tired and irritable from stresses from work, his studies, or whatever, I tried to “tip toe around him” to avoid adding more irritants to his overloaded senses. Was this being a peacemaker?
What is Peace, Peacemaking?
Most of us have an understanding of peace as: tranquility, absence of war, quiet, harmony, non-violence. What do you think of the following definitions?
Black Elk, a holy man of the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota lived from 1863 to 1950. He spoke of peace in ways similar to the Christian Bible verse seen below it. From The Sacred Pipe : Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux (1953), as told to Joseph Epes Brown.
The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka , (the Great Spirit) and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made between two nations.
But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.
The Bible says in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
So How Do We Make Peace?
Saint Francis of Assisi wrote this prayer which I think gives us another path to being peacemakers.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Being a Peacemaker For the World
The following song to me sums beautifully how we can be peacemakers in the world. I learned this song as a teenager and have always loved it. This and the above quotes only scratch the surface of the different ways to be a peacemaker, but we all need to start somewhere when we are learning how to do something this important.
Peace in our minds, our lives, our souls, our homes, cities, countries and world should be a goal for everyone. The whole world could benefit from seeking personal peace. (The words follow the video in case you don’t have time to listen to the video.)
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be
With God as our father
Brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony
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
In peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
We all will celebrate the holiday season and approaching new year, whether as a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Pagan, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or whatever faith you hold dear. Let’s try to keep in mind that we all descended from the same first people, whoever they were. We are genetically family, whether we want to be or not.
So please remember peace is good for all of us. Acceptance of others with different cultures, beliefs, religions, lifestyles, habits, or whatever, deserves to be treated as a fellow human being; with dignity, respect, understanding, kindness, and acceptance.
We ask these kindnesses for ourselves from others, why not extend the same to them?