Peace of mind

Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2022

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You know who won the biggest prize on election night?


Despite rumbles of angry rhetoric, hostile threats on social media, anticipation turning into smirking glee… with the exception of a couple of complaints of harassment at the polls, the citizens of America did the right thing: they showed up, they were orderly and exercised their rights to vote. And in the morning, while results were pleasing for some, disappointing for others, there was peace in the acceptance of the results.

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It’s almost come as a shock to feel ’normality’ again… the absence of angry incriminations, accusations and the stoking of violence. Instead, came peace, like a long, profound and heartfelt sigh.

We have been, I think, living through a time—the first time—in which the specific support of political candidates has fractured, actually fractured, families. People who have been dear friends from childhood no longer even speak to each other. And yet, many of us claim to belong to religions that teach peace, love and an obligation to pursue them above all else. In Christianity, Christ Jesus is hailed ’The Prince of Peace.” However, it can remain woefully hard to find. Or difficult to even pursue.

Sometimes, it helps to listen to what others have experienced as they have struggled, yet steadfastly pursued peace.

Mahatma Gandhi, as he struggled against the caste system and the colonialism of India with its denigration of the dignity of his fellow citizens, said, “Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, the revered first lady and humanitarian for human rights, gave the feeling of rolling up her sleeves and cutting away the warm fuzzies by stating, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

Ronald Reagan, who came head to head with the Soviet Union, declaring that it “runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens,” also remarked, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

John Lewis, and those who were marching with him in 1965, peacefully demonstrating for the right to vote—the very right that millions of us have never thought twice about having the right to do—that peace was assaulted as Lewis and countless other marchers were brutally beaten as they crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge. Undeterred, his words still ring true: “Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.”

Both political parties picked up seats they are grateful for following election night.

But I am most grateful for the peace “that passes all understanding.”