It’s who we are. It’s a part of our DNA, our story, our very nature. Rather than finding peace, we go to war. Instead of seeking resolution, we raise objection. We choose conflict. We gravitate to the powerful. We are attracted to the brave and valiant rather over the diplomatic and level-headed.
War is as old as recorded history. Murder, even before that.
Our own Biblical accounts portray jealousy, wrath, and homicide from the opening chapters: One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. (Genesis 3:8, NLT)
Brother kills brother. Kings battle kings. Nations war against other nations. History is filled with accounts of battles, bloody and glorious. We see it still today. Nothing has changed in hundreds of thousands of years.
There are drug cartels in Mexico that murder government officials with impunity. The ongoing war continues in Afghanistan. There is rebellion in Yemen. Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Boko Haram continues to terrorize Nigeria. Civil war has decimated Syria. Child soldiers are abducted and put into service in at least 14 different countries across the globe. Daily violence is a reality in American streets. And the list goes on and on.
But there is hope. There is an answer. Peace is the goal.
Peace is possible.
I come at this from a Christian perspective, where Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, NLT) But all the world’s religions long for peace.
The Dalai Lama states, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Islam teaches, “O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace. Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Holy Quran: 2, 208)
Hindus read, “O Almighty! May there be Peace! Peace! Everywhere!” (Ishawashya Upanishad)
Even those who see themselves as irreligious find the power of peace. Walt Whitman wrote, “Peace is always beautiful.”
The fact is, peace starts with us when we call out evil for what it is. We seek the better path of peace. We build relationships rather than walls. We feed the hungry. We love freely. We engage fully. Conflict will always exist. War will always be on the horizon. Evil will always rear its ugly head. It is part of who we are, but it doesn’t have to be our dominant feature.
Ronald Reagan is credited as saying, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
May we find peaceful means in every moment of our lives this day…and every day.