Monday, November 23, 2015

Peace in Our Hearts, Peace in Our Homes, Peace in the World

Peace begins here.

I think a lot about peace. Especially as violent events unfold in the world around us, I think of it. The problems seem so big. Some are of the opinion that to bring peace, we must first bring more violence. I do not agree with this. Violence begets violence until someone breaks that cycle. I don't have the power to end that cycle in a large sense, but I keep thinking of  a letter that was forwarded on to me when things in Syria first began to take a turn for the worse, and it is full of sound advice for the work that is mine to do. I carry the words of this paragraph from the letter in my mind as I go about my daily work:
If we are truly concerned about the strife in the world today, let us begin by overcoming anger in our own hearts by striving for meekness and humility. If we are upset by the violence and destruction in the Middle East, let us direct our energy to bring peace to the conflicts within our own families. If we are horrified by images of human beings injuring and killing one another, let us offer an image of Christ by giving alms to those in need in our own neighborhood.
I cannot solve these looming crises that exist in the world, but I can solve the bit of the problem that is within my own heart, in my own family, in my community. It starts with how I think of others in my heart. It extends to how I teach my children to treat one another, to solve their own small conflicts peacefully. It expands further into our community, in which I can be patient, kind, and giving to others regardless of who they are and what we may or may not have in common. If we all attend to our own hearts, homes, and communities, imagine how that could spread into the world.

I see already how the small things that anger us within our own family life reflect the frustrations in the world, the things that ignite wars. I see the struggle for power between my children, and it becomes ever more clear to me that teaching them to give patience and understanding to one another when they would rather not will make them into the kind of people who are able to do that in situations which carry much more weight. I see that when they feel left out or feel unsure of their status as beloved in our family, their frustration and anger in all things grows, and so I work to nurture in them the deep knowledge of our unwavering love for them. I work to draw them close to me and to each other.

I see already how this extends into our forays out into the city, how the knowledge of how to solve conflict allows my children to treat others well on the playground. I see how cultivating generosity to one another has taught them to give what they have to someone who needs it more than they do. I see that by accepting one another's quirks and inconsistencies, they can better understand when those we meet in passing are not as we hope they might be.

I know that this seems small. But if we all work on our own hearts, to set aside judgment and hatred and to embrace forgiveness and peace, and then we teach our children (whether they are "ours" as parents or "ours" as members of our spheres of influence) to do the same, we can fill the world with little pockets of peace. And the more that we offer compassion and kindness to others, the more capable they will be of offering the same to those they meet as well. The peace will grow. It is not an immediate solution to the larger issues our world faces, but it is a solution to some of the little problems that crop up when people let their fear grow into treating others poorly.

I am not perfect at this, of course. I'd rather be selfish most of the time, and I lose my temper sometimes, especially with my children. I'm guessing we all have our moments of losing our way. The good news is that we can fix it and try to do better the next time. This is what I tell myself and what I tell my children. Each day, I try my best, and each day I get a little bit better at doing what doesn't always come naturally. I remember all the good examples others have set for me, and I try to do likewise. It is hard work, cultivating peace in my heart and in my own family and community. But it is work worth doing, and it is work that I firmly believe can change the world.

1 comment:

  1. I strongly believe that raising up our children to be kind, and to foster peace in their hearts, is the best thing each of us can to to change the world. It is important work. You are doing a smashing job! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wonderful family. Peace on Earth!


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