In the words of the Dalia Lama XIV, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge and through humane ways.”
With the holiday season upon us and thoughts of new beginnings at year’s end, my hope is that our families and friends find peace among their differences. 2018 has been a year where differences seem amplified to the point that civility and peaceful means are in short supply. In homes across the country, children follow the lead of their parents and act out rather than how they are told to act. Our nation’s leaders act out in schoolyard ways as well and many people then feel it is acceptable to follow this lead.
But we can do better—all of us.
Many know the amazing story that took place more than 100 years ago in 1941, when thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers set down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front.
According to Pvt. Albert Moren, of the Second Queens Regiment, who was present at to this extraordinary event, “First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing—two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.” Even in the midst of the “War to End All Wars,” peace prevailed—if only for a few days. Most importantly, this historic event showed that sworn enemies—even men who had been trying to kill one another just a day before—identified their adversaries as worthy of human dignity.
The question we face today is whether we are ready to put down our weapons, be they cutting words or hostile actions, and recognize the common humanity in one another, regardless of the other person’s politics, race or religion. Our theme this month is on awakening—the true awakening that is happening as more and more of us are becoming aware that the adversarial ways we live are not sustainable. In the wake of such unease, there is a burgeoning movement of wise thinkers and followers who are calling for a new way. According to our feature article this month by Linda Sechrist, this trend actually began in the 19th century and got a bit of a boost from the Beatles. Just imagine!
Using the language that author Malcolm Gladwell offered in his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, there may be a new way of consciousness that is just on the horizon as it continues to catch fire. In Natural Awakenings magazines across the country and other similar sources that offer new ways of thinking and living are being sought and embraced. This wonderful mashup of science and philosophy, economics and spirituality may be leading a whole new movement to the brink of a new awakening. At least, that is the great hope.
My new year’s wish is we all find common ground and when agreeing to disagree that dialogue and peaceful means are how those disagreements are settled. There is a higher ground that we can take, and as we go there, let’s hold out a hand to others who need help in finding their way.
Happy holidays and New Years to all.