To my friends and neighbors in Lake Wylie:
So the season of Peace on Earth and goodwill to men has come and passed once again. As we begin our normal lives again in the new year, let’s hope that some of the wisdom of the princes of peace will remain with all of us:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.” - Matthew 5:38-40
“Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.” - Buddha
“Malice will never drive out malice. But if someone does evil to you, you should do good to him, so that by your good work you may destroy his malice.” - The Wisdom of the Desert; Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, translation by Thomas Merton
Perhaps this wisdom does not account for much in the halls of Congress and in the activities of the NRA. But then peace always did start with each and every one of us, so let us be the peace we hope to see in the world.
The easy path of division attracts us to a philosophy that builds up our sense of self by repeating that the other is “evil,” that compromise is “not what we were elected to do.” So, we raise ourselves and our beliefs above all others.
Yet, the incomparable message of Christmas and the symbolic lotus flower of Buddhism combine to absolve us of this sense of separateness and personal righteousness; as the baby Christ begins in a rough and rude manger so the beauty of the lotus flower rises up from the mud of the physical world.
We can no more separate goodness and beauty from the mud of the world than Jesus’ birth from a manger. The violence of Sandy Hook cannot be erased nor could it have been prevented by more weapons.
And needs of the least among us will not be alleviated by the trope of “fiscal responsibility” that seems to tell everyone who is well off you are different from the poor and you have done enough.
When will it be time to discuss how we can all do more? Help each other more? Show each other more understanding, more peace and not less?
Wisdom grows as we understand that we are all interconnected in this world, what raises one of us up raises all of us; all acts of violence reduce the peace of the entire world and enhance our personal security not all.
Let us hope that in 2013 we all become a bit more of the peace the world so badly needs.
TODD HUSTON, Lake Wylie