I have been thinking about peace lately: peace between countries, people of varying skin colors and languages; peace as the absence of war, anger, prejudice and terror; peace in a global, BIG way!!!
I am remembering international pen pal buddies. I am thinking of exchange students, and backpacking in many countries. I am thinking of breaking bread around the world on the first Sunday of October. I am thinking of a cease of fighting on Christmas Day. The Christmas Truce, when British and German soldiers were said to have suddenly stopped fighting on the Western Front for a few hours on Christmas Day 1914, is written in history. What started with the singing of “Stille Nacht” on the German side, followed by a response of “Silent Night,” was said to have included an impromptu soccer game on the No Man’s Land between. I am thinking of the quote, “walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins.”
I am thinking of how often we make a list of groups of people, or nationalities, countries we wouldn’t feel safe travelling to, and how many citizens from other countries are scared to come here to the USA. We are getting known as a country where gun violence -- even at movies or marathons and schools -- is something to expect -- violence and fear. Walking down the street as a person who looks or loves a bit differently is a reason, where we live, to have violence erupt. I am thinking that children over the world don’t feel safe and they have no experience of PEACE.
Our family has a friend, Lilya. We met over 15 years ago and we keep in touch. We met her as a translator and a college student. She didn’t know us and received no material benefits from befriending us, but through her gentle, loving kindness, her guidance and openness to Americans, we became friends, in Russia! Our friendship has grown.. I think about Alec, a pen pal I have from New Zealand whom I met in 1979, and we still send cards, and I am remembering the young girl I worked with one summer from Malesia, who gave me her “rice bowl” which I kept! I even think of the man with the machine gun, across his chest, who entered a bus in Israel which our group was on, and we struck up a conversation for the long hot ride.
I don’t think peace, which we are truly seeking as a country and world, will come from policies through governments, or in missile diplomacy, or by increased tariffs on selling or purchasing. It won’t come by beautiful photographs of world leaders sitting together at a gorgeous meal, or First Ladies wearing native dress.
I believe peace will come with the one to one touching, and exchanges of friendship and support from the common, you-and-me folks. Peace can happen when we know those unlike us, and are curious to discover our six degrees of separation (the theory that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries).
Peace will come as the “other”, is not called “Enemy” but one of God’s beloved too. As The Russians, by the musician Sting from his album “Dream of the Blue Turtle” says, “We share the same biology, regardless of ideology. But what might save us, me and you, is if the Russians love their children, too “
May you be adventurers this summer and meet a stranger who doesn’t speak your language, make a pen-pal and allow Peace to grow!