I sit on my deck as I write. It’s 74 degrees on July 17th—a beautiful gift of a spring day in the middle of a Maryland summer. The only sound I hear is the hum of a distant lawnmower. I see my neighbor, like a real-life version of those tiny Little People children’s toys, on a riding mower across the valley from my house. He makes a final circle around his lawn and stops the mower. The world is silent again. And then the birds begin to chirp as I watch a finch land on the feeder by the pine tree in my back yard.
My world is peaceful.
But in the Ukraine a Malaysian plane bearing 295 people has been shot down by a surface-to-air missile. In Gaza the Israelis have launched a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in retaliation for the execution of three Israeli teenagers. In Nigeria over 200 schoolgirls, kidnapped by Islamic extremists, have all but disappeared from the news, much as they disappeared from their school over three months ago.
The world is anything but peaceful, I write.
I want to make a difference. But I also want to cover my ears and ignore the world beyond the neighbor’s house on the opposite hill. Perhaps if I could just pretend the world is as serene as my back yard, then I could ignore the conflict until it goes away.
But I know that isn’t an answer. So I continue to write, hoping that, somehow, we quiet voices for peace will come together and drown out the haters, overcome the crazy extremists who will settle for nothing less than the utter annihilation of those who disagree with them.
On days like today, I feel like a failure. And then I remember that even the Christ of my faith couldn’t get all of the haters to hear him. They killed even him. I wonder, Was he a failure? But then I know that if I believe he rose from that death the haters dealt him, as my faith teaches me, then he conquered hatred. And this I choose to believe—that Love and Grace and Peace can conquer even the most forceful malice that Evil has to offer.
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment—now.” It’s a song we sing at Christmas, when the birth of the Christ Child fills us with hope. But in the aftermath of the crucifixion and in the long days of Ordinary Time, when we live in a real world that is all too often filled with conflict, it’s easy to forget the power of Love.
Are you out there? Speak. I need to hear your voice. Only when our love and grace can drown out the cacophony of hate will Peace on Earth have a chance.