“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” is the beginning of a popular song written in 1955. Peace is more than just the absence of war or conflict. Shalom is a Hebrew word that defines peace in its larger sense. Shalom means peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. Shalom can be used both as a greeting and as a farewell just like “aloha” is used in Hawaii.
It is hard to foster peace, or shalom, out in a community and the world if we are conflicted, not at peace, with ourselves. We need to be clear in our values for living and at least be growing into those values before we start telling other people how to live. What are our core values? Honesty, generosity, kindness, patience, loyalty, fairness, justness, mercy, forgiveness, empathy, and similar things? Many people would recognize these as included in their values.
Other people have values that are contrary to fostering peace. This is nothing new. There is a reason that the phrase “dog eats dog” comes to us from the Latin because the struggle for peace existed in the Roman Empire and even before. “Canis Canem Edit”, dog eats dog, refers to a situation where nobody is safe from anybody, each person being selfish.
Vince Lombardi’s most famous quote may be, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. But he was not referring to a selfish sort of winning. While he was indeed a fierce competitor on Sunday, he also said, “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” And “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”
Once we have begun working on peace in ourselves, we can then move outward. We then have the guidance of nearly all philosophical and religious teachings in the world that we should treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. And people want peace.
We can be working for peace in ourselves, our families, communities, organizations, and nation that is beyond just the absence of fighting and strife. Promoting positive peace that is health and wholeness and wellbeing at all levels of human interaction. Let it begin with each of us and continue with all of us. Let us create an example for the world within our own Pickaway County community of fine folks. Peace be with you!
Written by the Rev. Jeff Julien, Pastor, Saint Paul United Methodist Church (Washington Township) and Walnut Hill United; Methodist Church (Hamilton Township, Franklin County) for The Circleville Herald