A recent Monitor article tells of a friendship and collaboration between an Israeli rabbi and a Palestinian farmer. My heart surged once more with hopes for world peace, which has long been near and dear to me. The article reminded me that peace comes first individually, and then, after it is shared, it can ripple outward. We often mistakenly think that peace comes as a condition from outside us, when it is actually something we must each proactively choose and develop.
When I started to study Christian Science, I learned that its discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy, put forth for consideration seven synonyms for God: Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love (see "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 465). Initially, as I pondered this, I thought one synonym was missing from that list: peace. That's how ultimate I thought peace was – a supreme Godlike presence, a necessity that would make all the difference.
I have since concluded that peace is a nexus for all seven synonyms, their central overlapping point and sustaining underpinning. This is why we crave peace, because it is essential both to our Creator and therefore to us, His creation.
It is because peace is spiritually inherent and we are predisposed to it that it feels so good to read stories of peace like the one in the article mentioned above. Peace feels like a homecoming, and that harmony of congruence resonates with our most authentic being.
But finding peace can be difficult; there are so many suggestions to the contrary. Peace must be waged. It is not a butterfly that comes unbidden and sits on our shoulder. So many temptations can distract us from it. The many opposites of peace clamor loudly.
We traditionally think a novel is uninteresting without a conflict, but I am beginning to see instead that it is the trajectories of peace that form the most fascinating stories. Contrary to preconceptions, trajectories of peace are far from dull, because they satisfy our yearnings for growth, alignment, innocence, gratitude, and unity.
We can each find ways to wage peace within our spheres of influence as our brothers described in the article are doing. As a Christian, I see their love for each other as a bold embodiment of Jesus' commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39, New King James Version). But their own faith traditions also have teachings along those lines.
That commandment has two parts. You must love yourself while loving your neighbor in the same way. Without fulfilling both parts, contention will arise. But when you do both, there is respect and equality. Let us strive for peace by loving our neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and those considered nemeses and rivals.
We can choose compassion over blame, trust over insecurity, encouragement over criticism, love over fear, and advocacy over undermining. A song from my childhood states, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." As we each wage peace, we will have that peace to share. And every one of us is capable of this. It is a present possibility, supported by a universal, beneficent God who loves us all impartially.