Let Peace Begin with Me
By Sally García with Margaret Espinoza
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
The opening lines of this beautiful song are a reality check for me because I am often so discouraged with the state of the world. I read the newspaper and watch the evening news report and sometimes I get just plain upset! Why is there so much discord? Why can’t people try to get along with each other? Yet, they say that when we point our accusing finger at others, there are three fingers of our own hand pointing back to ourselves.
So, then I have to ask myself, Have I done anything today to be a part of the solution, even if only in my own neighborhood? The hopeless “what’s the use?” mentality is not only defeatist, but it just isn’t a fun way to live our lives. The “what can I do to make a difference?” mindset will bring meaning to every day.
Margaret, who lives in Chile, tells the following story of an incident in her apartment building:
In our building we have an online chat group for the residents. We use it for announcements, to sell things, and sometimes to vent our frustrations. A few days ago, a dozen or more people were angry about an opinion expressed in the chat. Ugly, strong, and offensive things were said.
I was deeply saddened and upset and considered leaving the group.
Then I had a feeling that this was the wrong reaction and that I should share my feelings in the chat, even though I seldom participate.
So I asked God to help me speak in love and courtesy to these people whom I don’t know and can’t identify, even though it’s possible we sometimes ride the elevator together.
I wrote that it is sad to treat each other this way, that we need to be in unity—there is already so much violence and aggressiveness on the street. We need to be able to return home after a long day and find a refuge of love among us. I also wrote that if we can speak courteously and kindly to each other, we will create a climate of security and protection within our building.
I was expecting a barrage of nasty and cynical replies. But no, there was a general silence and a couple of likes. I was thankful for the “likes” and took the silence as a sign of respect—the subject was now closed. I could feel the Lord at work, wanting to restore our hearts.
Yesterday I shared in our online group an inspirational quote and thanked everyone for being such good neighbors. This time there were more likes, and a couple of people also shared their wishes that we all would enjoy a good day! This was a first!
Though I had felt timid, I was glad I had offered an alternative to the aggressive criticisms. And once again, “a little love goes a long, long way.”
Margaret’s intervention was simple, yet it took a fair amount of courage, as well as effort, to say the right words to defuse a potentially complicated situation among the residents of her apartment building. It reminds me of the proverb, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”1
Here are the words of the song, which can also be our prayer:
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God our creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow;
to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. 2
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”—Matthew 5:93
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”—Romans 12:214
1 Proverbs 15:1 NIV.
2 “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” songwriters Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller, 1955.