Ah, the holidays! A wonderful time of the year for many reasons: the birth of Jesus, Christmas decorations, the exchanging of gifts, families coming together to celebrate, and holiday carols that remind us of "peace on Earth, good will towards men". It' s a lovely sentiment that for most seems as elusive as the unicorn and as unattainable as achieving perfect health. How can we possibly have world peace when we cannot even get along with our spouses, parents, and siblings? Putting up with some of them for a brief amount of time during Dec. stretches our patience to the limit.
We've had great leaders like Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Ghandi, and of course, the Son of God, who devoted their lives to fostering peace within the hearts of humanity. Yet as I sit here in front of my computer, we still have troops in Afghanistan losing their lives in battle and violence in every corner of this world. In Matthew 5:9, the Lord tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers." But who are these people? Why do some propose peaceful coexistence while others choose aggression and violence?
There are certain qualities associated with peacemakers such as compassion, kindness, confidence, and a sense of fairness. They respect all life as sacred and honor each form. Helpful, forgiving, and loving, they are all inclusive and embrace all of humanity as equals.
But we cannot expect the world to live harmoniously unless we first create peace within ourselves. And we do that by the following:
1. Remove all expectations from others and allow each person to be who they need to be.
2. Forgive all those who have mistreated us, even those who do not apologize.
3. Choose kindness as a way of life.
4. Appreciate and validate all whom you encounter no matter how different.
5. Extend peace and love to all whom you meet every day, in every moment.
Once you have found peace within yourself, bring that into your family:
1. Encourage love, joy, and acceptance of all.
2. Be the peacemaker in disputes. Make an effort to help heal the rifts.
3. Make allowances for the imperfections of all members.
4. Be all inclusive; embrace every one.
5. See the value and goodness in each person and help them develop that.
6. Give them the benefit of the doubt when a misunderstanding or incident occurs.
Then extend your peacemaking efforts to your workplace and community. Nurture it and it will grow. Let peace become who you are. Let peace become your way of life.
In the words of John Lennon: "Image all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer… I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one." Peace, my friend.
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