Perspectives: Peace on earth, it starts with the individual

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — As Christmas 2018 arrives, I’m relieved to see that the tradition of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men” is still considered a good thing by many.

The headlines for the past few years have made it seem that genuine peace is becoming scarce commodity in our world.

Authentic peace isn’t just a clinical, geopolitical evaluation that can be measured by whether or not a nation is in an official state of war. Peace is needed at every level of society right down to the individual.

How we get there is something in which each of us has tangible influence. Peace is unlikely to come about as a top-down kind of directive.

It has to be freely chosen by each individual who sees its value over violence in a given situation. Naturally, this is much harder to put into actual practice.

We live in a time when even the most minor divisions are exaggerated and inflated to justify creating conflict between us. Whether or not we allow ourselves to be baited into their contention is entirely our own choice.

We can be conduits for peace or for conflict in the lives of those around us.

Here are some of the things we can do to promote peace wherever we are standing.

Make truth a priority. This means more than simply getting your political talking points down pat.

It means going to the source whenever possible. This means actually talking to those with opposing or independent viewpoints. Don’t rely on labels or secondhand interpretations to inform your worldview.

A small town in Minnesota learned the hard way what happens when someone comes to your community with peaceful demeanor but intent to lie about them. A now-disgraced journalist from a highly respected German news journal was rightly called out for his fabrications, but where do the citizens of Fergus Falls go to reclaim their reputations?

I’ve watched this kind of “gotcha” journalism for the past several years regarding the Bundy family. It’s incredibly unethical.

Anyone who who has been to the source – spoken with the Bundy family in person – knows how distorted the narrative about them has been spun.

It’s so easy to get people wound up and to urge them to hate one another. If all that you know about something or someone was told to you by someone else, then your personal knowledge is likely incomplete. It’s worth going to source and doing your own fact-checking.

It’s one thing to be misled about someone or something, but what is our responsibility when falsehoods are being perpetuated for the purpose of urging violence upon others?

Alexander Solzhenitsyn clearly spelled out how violence and falsehood complement one another:

Violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle.

None of us likes to think ourselves as violent individuals. But far too many of us are perfectly fine with urging violence, primarily through the state, upon those with whom we disagree.

We need to become acquainted with the concept of acceptance without conformity that we already practice in so many of our daily decisions. We all drive different cars and wear different clothes and no one feels the need to force others to accept their choice.

That same deference should apply to the peaceful decisions of each individual. When we set out to cause conflict or to initiate violence against someone, we are in the wrong.

Few things will help us step out of the artificial mindset that celebrates conflict like seeking to find common ground and choosing to set aside the minor differences. It’s possible to disagree without resorting to force.

The conditions under which we’re likely to have this opportunity are far less difficult that the ones faced by soldiers just five month into WWI on Christmas Eve 1914. It’s a story worth reading.

Suffice it to say that, at certain parts of the front lines, soldiers on all sides put down their arms and briefly celebrated Christmas together.

Hunter Derensis summed up what this story portends:

As an event in the history of war, the Christmas Truce of 1914 is barely a footnote; it had no major effects on the fighting or outcome of World War I. But in the history of peace, the truce is a powerful story. This moment, this flash of love, bookended on both sides by destruction and hate, was a triumph of humanity. It’s the closest thing we’ll see to a miracle in this fallen world.

If the Christmas Truce of 1914 could happen, then peace should be possible under less destructive circumstances.

This is a season of peace. Be aware of those needing more peace in their lives and choose to extend it to them.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • commonsense December 25, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Civility implies acceptance of the results of an election and working within the system. Violent protests and unrelenting resistance is wrong and unprecedented. For the focus of the opposition party to be discrediting the sitting POTUS rather than legislating and governing is a reflection of a lust for power sans principles. Peace will come when we value the process and accept the will of the majority.

    • Comment December 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Yep, sounds quite familiar. Rather than add to the discussion and try to implement ideas to make healthcare more affordable all that the R-party could do was obstruct and oppose obamacare. “We don’t have any of our own ideas, but we oppose obamacare”. The clown circus runs both ways even though you and your extremely narrow worldview fail to see it. Maybe congress can get together and put together a special discretionary fun that dear POTUS can use for hush money for all his porn star encounters. Then he’ll won’t need to worry about finding another Cohen, the porn stars will all be silenced, and he will be free to govern us into a new era of enlightenment.

      merry xmas, cs 😉

  • commonsense December 25, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Speaking of off topic, I believe the piece today was about peace, right? Coming together on heath care would be a great place to start. The sexual misconduct of politicians seems to be shared across party lines and way too pervassive.

    • Comment December 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Sorry, but “seems to be shared across party lines” is no excuse. It just is not. I wouldn’t excuse that kind of behavior from dems. Paying hush money to porn stars is like a plot from a bad movie. A COMPLETE AMORAL DEGENERATE is who runs the country.

      • Comment December 26, 2018 at 12:12 pm

        And I’ll beat you to the punch, CS. Clinton was also A COMPLETE AMORAL DEGENERATE, and I’m no fan of him either.

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