Peace on earth is a lovely sentiment. You hear it often during the Christmas season. Sorry, or is it Holiday season?
What does that mean and is it actually an attainable state for the human race, ever?
It feels like in the past few decades we’ve grown further apart and further away from the lofty idea of peace on earth.
Space doesn’t allow us to delve into the chaos taking place in Chad, Botswana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania, well a lot of Africa. Like everywhere else in the world people are killing each other in the most horrific ways imaginable in the name of religion. This is a common theme around the world: my religion is right and yours is wrong. So many people are so sure their brand is the right one. If there is a higher being of some sort, a lot of people are in for a huge surprise on their appointed day.
But let’s focus here at home, where most of the country has chosen to weaponize their politics when it comes to almost any issue du jour. Sadly, we became the most cohesive in a long time following the Sept. 11 attacks on the trade towers and Pentagon. It was a simple case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
That lasted about 10 minutes and then we gathered as Republicans and Democrats and started arguing over weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein’s role, where terrorists are trained and who has yellow cake plutonium. We can’t even agree about who we hate together.
Our form of government allows for huge and widely ranging freedoms, many of which we’re ill-equipped to make our own properly informed decisions. In short, we’ve not earned those rights, nor are most of us qualified to exercise them. Our freedoms allow us to blindly follow ignorant people who spread hate and sell (successfully) rhetoric as fact. We spend more time arguing about gun control, a woman’s right to choose and the treatment of people of color far more than we do helping anyone negatively affected by the ocean swells of hate that dominate those arguments.
It’s great to march down a street and carry a sign seeking change for Indigenous people but how many of those marchers would volunteer for an afternoon out on the checkerboard or a food pantry in Gallup? Blocking the doors to a state capitol for a couple of hours demanding Black Lives Matter will get you noticed and give television news some ignorant sound bites. Who’s actually working long term with lobbyists and elected officials to change police training and help the people most protesters know nothing about?
It’s not peaceful in the United States of America, a country whose own inhabitants pray for peace almost weekly in the organized religion of their choice. Ironically, it’s most of those people who, once they’re outside those holy places of worship, spread hate and vitriol, ensuring peace has no chance.
The irony is also not lost on us that those truly in the causes, who call for peace the most and loudest are the ones silenced by government persecution, violence, threats, hanging or a bullet.
Peace on earth? We can start small by treating each other better, not cutting each other off in traffic, let someone in front of you in the grocery store line. Give to a charity and if you receive from a charity, volunteer to help them using your time and skills.
We don’t recommend this at Christmas dinner but have a calm conversation with someone whom you know disagrees with you on a topic. Listen to that person. Try to find common ground.
Peace on earth? We’ll turn back climate change first and that’s a long shot, getting longer daily. Wait, we don’t agree on that either. We’ll have to wait until Miami is underwater before everyone gets on board with that-literally maybe.