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The above wish is one I offer these days, being aware that the traditional holiday prayer, “Peace on earth…” seems like reaching for an impossible dream. Today’s complexities of world power and nations’ posturing render peace on earth beyond imagining, even for the visionaries among us.

Personal peace, however, is attainable for those seeking it, as is peace “all about.” Both can be contagious.

“Peace within” begins with acceptance of self, others and the world as is. Not bitterly or passively but with a clarity that focuses on the good in each.  Peace, after all, is about gratitude, acknowledging an awareness of life’s gifts while at the same time not being blind to life’s challenges. Peace within engages both mind and heart in a wordless conversation about faith and the meaning of life – faith in self, and how one’s life can best fit into this time and place.

Peace within enables a self to accept reality, to acknowledge one’s limitations while believing in one’s value to others and their value to self. Peace within recognizes and accepts a world of diversity, helping to ground a self with both a sense of power in one’s own sphere and, humbly, powerlessness in the broader world. This sense of reality renders life manageable and meaningful.

Peace within offers no room for resentment or envy or self-pity. Every self’s basic chore is the acceptance of one’s human condition, a use of one’s talents, and living a reality that is not about perfection but possibilities. It’s about finding in self, not complacency or disappointment but a responsibility to  be one’s best, to recognize the significance of every life, especially one’s own, and to see diversity for its richness and all that can be learned from it.

“…And all about” means the neighborhood that supports and nurtures one’s being. “Let there be peace on earth” unfortunately is and remains poetry and is beyond our present limitations. It makes for a sweet and pretty prayer. But “let it begin with me” is workable when one sees “all about” as family, friends, community, and workplace.

Rare is the person who can change the world-at-large, but anyone can change their own by finding peace within and sharing it in everyday encounters. Personal peace is merely a beginning but if it is genuine others who witness it may wish to know it as well. After all, we are all teachers, whether we realize it or not. If we know peace within, have faith in the goodness of self and others and even the world as is, we can make a difference in our “all about.” And that is an important beginning.