Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peace to you

Did you know that today is World Peace Day? I probably would have overlooked it, but my son goes to a peaceable school, and when I went to pick him up today, they had decorated the fence outside with paper windmills and a sign that said "Imagine Whirled Peace".

Peace. What a difficult concept to even grasp in our fragmented, broken world. It's hard to even find personal peace when our minds and hearts get overburdened with all the chaos of life. Recently, I devoted a lot of time trying to develop a "peace project" at work that would hopefully help our at-risk youth and the staff who work with them find better ways of communicating and mediating conflicts. In my proposals to various groups, almost everyone agreed with the need for such a program, but I was told in a myriad of ways exactly why a peacemaking program would not work.

If peace is so important, why don't we have it? Why don't we work for it? I know the task seems insurmountable, but wouldn't one small step be better than none at all? What is the core problem? To me, it seems tied to our lack of community in our American culture. We are so segregated, so quick to isolate ourselves, so independent that we can hardly look at our neighbors, much less know them or care about their needs. And when we insulate ourselves from others, it's easy to judge them as "different" or "outsiders", the typical "us vs. them". It becomes a competition to get our needs met...at the expense of others. Fear drives us to keep to ourselves and create barriers, and peace cannot live where people are divided.

I'm no better at this than anyone else. But I've started to think and worry about it more, particularly as my kids are growing up. I worry about sending them into "real" school. I get frustrated with situations in the world...and in my inability to change them (and my own inaction). I am infuriated when Christians perpetrate divisions and hate instead of sharing the peace of Christ. And yet my own hatred isn't breaking down any barriers either.

Oh God, may we be people of peace. May your peace live in our hearts and show us all the way.

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