“Peace on earth, goodwill towards people!” A high school friend has sent me this seasonal greeting for several decades now. Oh, and my friend changed the wording, “towards men” to “towards people” with the very first greeting.
“Peace on earth, goodwill towards people” is an expression often heard this time of year during our Festivals of Lights when we express joy, love and peace for one another. Joy and love are gifts which we give freely, with no strings attached, to each other that really capture the spirit of the season. We want peace to be this way also, but it is not.
Peace is a dream. It is like the “beloved community” which Starr wants to achieve through DEI-B — diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The results Starr would like through our equity planning is this:
Our desire is to live and work with one another with a felt sense of safety, compassion, and belonging. We dream of a ‘beloved community’ where all beings feel
seen, heard, and respected. Starr Commonwealth is striving to create a culture where it is believed and understood that all can embrace and respect one
another and pursue the highest attainment of health, joy and opportunity for all.
Peace is something which we humans have longed for since we first walked upon this earth. As Hillary McDowell states in On the Way to Bethlehem, we seek peace like an ointment to soothe a heart in pain; or to wipe out feelings of guilt; or to escape from an uncomfortable and stressful situation. We want peace to be a remedy, a cure; however, it is not. Peace as dream is an aftermath.
Peace follows only when we are willing to personally let go of that which creates barriers between ourselves and those around us. These barriers lead to fear and so many of the issues which shape our human experience. Peace requires work, sacrifice and, dare I say it — belief! Peace is not serenity; it is not a hiding place, or a relief from trouble. Peace is brought about by those who are willing to endure the uncomfortableness of change; those who are willing to see life through the eyes and experiences of the marginalized; those who know that there will be betrayals and disappointments on the journey towards peace; those who hold onto the hope that peace is possible not in some distant “future”, but in the reality of “now”; and those who know the work of peace is ongoing and daily.
The dream of “beloved community” is the same. We can plan and scheme, but it really comes down to those who are willing to change, who are willing to see life differently, those who understand there will be betrayals and disappointments along the way, those who believe such a community is possible, and those who work at it daily.
So, to everyone, “Peace on earth, goodwill towards people” — peace to all! However, this is not just a seasonal greeting for this time of year; it is a daily greeting all year long. If I may paraphrase the words of the late theologian, Howard Thurman —
When the lights of the Festivals are extinguished and put away
The work of Peace really begins……
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring joy and love among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.