As we prepare to celebrate a holiday proclaiming peace on earth and good will to all, let us take a moment to ask ourselves a question. When Jesus taught us that peacemakers are blessed, what exactly did he mean by making peace?
For nations, peace means the absence of war. Peace silences military conflicts, disarms combatants and finds long-term resolutions to differences. So, making peace requires first a willingness to avoid combat, the rejection of physical violence as a solution to disagreements. Second, a peacemaker must actively seek ways to eliminate the causes of war. Therefore, making peace requires us to seek a fair distribution of the world’s resources, so that no nation feels compelled to invade another out of need or deprivation. Making peace calls on us to understand and respect other cultures, and to find common ground that spans our gaps in perspective. Making peace means honoring the sovereign rights of all nations and defending those rights, when necessary, as nations united by common core principles.
In our communities, peace means the absence of crime. Making peace means supporting the laws of the community that define peaceful behavior. But, beyond mere policing, making peace requires us to build a healthy network of cities and towns, and maintain the balance between the interests of the people and those of the private sector. Only by maintaining this balance can industry be assured of an educated, healthy and motivated workforce and consumer base. Only by maintaining this balance can the people sustain the social infrastructure and capitalize on economies of scale for the provision of services and products. Only by maintaining this balance can industry thrive and the people earn the due rewards of their labor. The job of government is to ensure that the people and the private sector honor their social contract of mutual assistance, and fill the gaps when the system falters and leaves either individuals or businesses without a safety net.
For individual persons, peace means harmony and seeking to attain a state of enlightenment. Making peace means loving others — all others — as you would have yourself loved. For only by sending out love into the world can the world generate enough love to echo back to each and every person. But in order to send out love into the world, you must first love yourself. Making peace means loving yourself so that you may become an engine of love production for others, for communities and for the world.
How do I do that, you ask? How do I learn to love myself? Here are some suggestions — my Christmas gift to you:
- Make peace with your present self — You may be a creation of God, but you are not a god. You are a wonderful and amazing … and flawed human being. To love yourself, stop trying to be Superman and just be the most super man or woman you can be. Forgive your feet of clay so long as they are walking in the right direction.
- Make peace with your past self — Whatever lies in history is done. To love yourself, take responsibility where it is yours and ask for forgiveness. And if the blame lies with someone else, then leave it to them. You cannot control the feelings of others, you only have control over your own feelings.
- Make peace with your future self — Goals are great and we should all have them. But life is chaos. Life is unpredictable. We never really know where the next day will lead. To love yourself, make plans, but live your life. Live boldly, fearlessly, sometimes even recklessly. Only by living can you love.
- Make peace with your eternal self — Death is inevitable. However you view what happens after death, your spirit will live on through your actions here and now. And since none of us can know what happens after death, stop worrying about it and focus on the here and now. To love yourself, embrace your spirit and treasure the gift you are to the world. Love yourself by being the most ‘you’ that you can be. Love yourself by letting the flower of your life blossom.