Where Peace on Earth begins …

‘Tis the season for Peace on Earth.  Capital P, Capital E.

How absurd — Peace on Earth the focus of one month of the year.On the one hand, I hear my cynical friends rant about the hypocrisy and I get it — all the false comfort and joy, the phony glad tidings.  The most wonderful time of the year?  Humbug.

On the other hand, what we choose to pay attention to powerfully influences how we experience life.  So is it really so bad to choose, for one month a year, to pay attention to good will, joy and peace? — and to intend a bit of it in our interactions?  After all, it seems in such short supply….

Here’s what I think:

Peace on Earth begins with me.  Peace on Earth begins with you.  Every kind word, every smile shared, every nod of understanding is a fractal, a microcosm of what must happen, worldwide, to guide this big spinning rock toward salvation rather than destruction.

Every time you look your boss, or your employee, in the eye and intend to grok what’s happening in her worldview — especially when it’s so different from yours — you model the only behavior that can save the world.

Every time you put aside trying to get someone to do what you want, but come instead from what might resolve our shared concern — our company or our nation, our family or our planet — you model the only behavior that can save the world. 

Every time you forgive yourself, or someone else, you model the only behavior that can save the world.  Peace in my heart becomes peace in my interactions becomes peace in my community becomes peace in my world.  The flap of the butterfly’s wings changes the weather across the planet.  A gesture of peace goes viral.

So if we get reminded once a year about “good will to men” (and maybe even to women and other life forms), so be it.  We need that reminder.  Our culture, and most other cultures on the planet, forget it way too often.

I leave you this holiday season with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which I’ve taken the crazy liberty of tweaking just a bit:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to all.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to all.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“Peace is not dead, nor doth it sleep;
It’s in your heart; just take your part
For peace on earth, good will to all.”

YOUR PATH FORWARD:  This holiday season, notice when and where you find peace in your heart.  Wherever and whenever you find it, commit to going back there as often as possible — even if it has to be just in your mind.  And then share it.

About the Author

Steve Motenko
Steve Motenko is an executive coach, leadership trainer, and co-host of The Boss Show, a weekly podcast on workplace dynamics. Steve and his Boss Show co-host, Jim Hessler, are co-authors of Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guide to Building Your Leadership Platform. Steve lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, with his wife and dog, whom he loves, and a cat he tolerates usually pretty well.

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