Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I was doing some more work on the dissertation this morning and came across an journal entry that I wrote shortly after September 11th. It's just as timely now, and something I really needed to remember this morning. Let me share it with you:
Friday, 14 September 2001, 1 PM: On this national day of prayer and remembrance, I went to a local chapel to meditate. I ended up wondering what I, personally, could to do help. The answer came, "Live in peace."
Well, that's easier said than done, I thought, especially at a time like this. Just this morning there was a commentator on NPR who said, basically, that what's needed is to use nuclear weapons to obliterate the terrorists. How can any of us "live in peace," or even hope for peace with the reality of the horrors in New York and Washington, and threats of war and vengeance all around us?
Puzzled and a little bit angry, I headed home. Not three blocks from the chapel, a fellow in a black sports car cut me off; a couple of blocks farther, two minivans wouldn't let me into the turn lane. How rude, I thought. So much for peace--they sure have lousy manners. I mentally flipped them off and sent them on their way. As I got closer to home, a woman on the freeway had her turn signal on. I slowed to let her in, but she didn't move. I waved to her to come on in; she still didn't move over. How big a hole do you need, lady? What a dummy! I had a few choice words for her, too.
And then, finally, I got the message. What's that old song? "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." With me, not with that person over there, or with the President, or anyone else--with me. It's my responsibility, if I want peace for this world, to create peace within myself and toward others. And I realized that I've been doing a lousy job of it lately. Praying for peace--which I've been doing a lot of this week--is a good thing, but what I'm going to try to do now is act for peace, and change the only person I have any control over--myself.
What if all of us did that? What if we all became more aware of the times when anger takes over, or the urge to get back at someone who has ticked us off, or a gut-level dislike of someone who's different in some way from us--in ideology, or skin color, or whatever?
As for me, I'm just going to take it one minute at a time, because I'm discovering that it's amazingly difficult for me to do. But I'm taking it on as my task, my personal contribution to peace on earth.