We enjoyed a truly blessed Christmas here in Georgia (even a miraculous snowfall!), yet for all the talk about peace on earth that the season brings, I am left pondering how we have come so far from it. The discord spread throughout the world seems almost overwhelming at times. Wars are fought, genocides are committed and gang activity seems at an all time high. I believe peace is more than an idea, but how do we accomplish this on a global level?
One of my nephews, home on leave for Christmas from his job as a medic in Iraq, brought back some rather sobering information. He signed up for the military specifically to be a medic--a role where he would take care of people instead of kill them. You would think he would be allowed to do his job and help his fallen comrades relatively unscathed, but this is not the case. Medics are second only to gunners on the snipers' attack list. I can understand why they would want to take out the gunners first, but why the medics? Is their level of hatred so strong they do not want to see anyone helped?
What is it about places like Iraq that encourage such hatred and violence? Why do people choose to join gangs and live as outlaws? I believe the answer to all these questions is quite simple: humans have a basic need for love and when that is in short supply they try to fill the hole up with what is available. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, a religion that promises a better life in heaven and that makes them part of a community in the present is often very attractive. Here in America, where gangs are quite prevalent, people who join them often lack strong family support. The gang then becomes their replacement family. The bottom line is, we are all searching for love. When it is not there, we fill it with other things to try to plug up that emptiness.
So what can we do to promote peace on earth? We help take care of the needs of those around us. We can donate our time, our resources, ourselves to help people fill that basic need for love. It doesn't have to be big. It just needs to be done. Peace on earth begins in the heart. Peace on earth begins with you and me.