By GrannyMumantoog, a Trail Mix Contributor
It’s Christmas time again for much of the world. For others it may be called something else but many of the sentiments, hopes and wishes are the same. It’s a season of reflection, sometimes reconciliation, looking back on the year gone by and thinking about what will happen in the year ahead.
This time of year people all over the world think about peace. World peace is the stuff of song and story but it never seems to be a reality. It’s often just an anecdote or a punchline like in the movie Miss Congeniality:
Everyone says I want peace, I’m praying for peace, I hope my children will live in a world of peace. But, what do we do about it? Is it even possible? What would that kind of peace really look like? Has it ever existed? One of the earliest quotes about peace is the one that Christians are most familiar with. There are actually 2 interpretations/translations of the quote. It comes from the gospel of Luke:
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men of good will.
The highlighted section is in many bibles translated as “good will towards men.” Most scholars believe that “peace to men of good will” is the correct translation of the original text. It makes more sense that a celestial being would use that phrase when addressing a group of frightened men. Letting them know that if they have good will in their hearts, they will find peace. The irony is that even when those words were spoken the world was not at peace. Many years and many wars later we’re still looking for those men of good will to raise their voices and be heard.
During the Civil War Henry Wadsworth Longfellow went from deep despair to finding a spark of good will within himself and gave us one of the most beautiful poems of the era many people know it as a song:
…It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
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 men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
More recently we have applauded stories of a few young men of good will abstaining from battle for a brief day during WWI. If only the entire world had stopped the madness. But, alas, those men of good will were not in charge and the killing continued.
It is sadly expressed in this song: ‘Christmas 1915’
The problem with trying to acheive peace is that the world is still filled with frightened men and they never understood the “good will” part of the task given to them 2000 years ago. The angel was admonishing them that peace would not be achieved until the world was filled with men of good will. That those men must become the loudest voices or nothing will ever change. This, as many before, has been a trying year for the world. For many it is the first time since the 40s that Americans are fearing an attack on US soil. It has become clear to the world that there are no men of good will running things. The US government seems to be about money, power and isolationist rhetoric with very little evidence of good will in the hearts if its leaders.
As we see, much has been written, said and sung about peace on earth in 2000 years. We will keep praying for peace and celebrating that original story of the possibility of peace on earth. We will keep believing that men of good will can eventually prevail. Where are they right now? Perhaps they are our children and grandchildren who will be taught to love instead of learning to hate and fear their fellow man before it’s too late. Maybe the next generation will save us from ourselves if we teach them right. If we can get them off of social medial and off their cell phones long enough. The future will belong to them. Let’s hope they do a better job than their elders have done.
There are over 100 quotes about peace listed on this page from the greatest thinkers, leaders, writers and speakers of every era. Share these with the young ones you know.
Here is just one quote from a man of good will in the 21st century: “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.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV
On final song from our era: This is my wish – Kevin Ross
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, in whatever form you celebrate them!
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