“Paperwork, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens – these things, too, are the works of peace.”
Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, Dec. 1965
Peacemaking is not restricted to inserting flowers into rifle barrels. I suspect that the greatest peace we could make is the peace we could choose to make in our daily lives with the people who ordinarily touch us. What would it be like for them if I smiled more often? What if I held my tiredness as a personal trial rather than a shared trial with all who happen to encounter me? Might I be able to consciously decide to think well of those who cross my path?
Someone cut me off in traffic and made me sit through a red light. Are they an inconsiderate boor? Or are they a fellow human being struggling with life and the demands of a day that finds them 15 minutes late for every single obligation they have today? What happens to me when I decide to believe the latter? I become more peaceful. Does that peace remain with me alone? Likely not! My attitude will be evident toward the people I see later that day.
I go through a drive-through where the attendant gives me the incorrect change. Is she a moron who can't count and doesn't care? Or is she a teenager practicing a budding work ethic which will serve her well when she finishes her degree and heads to med school? Do I condemn her for her low intellect and lack of concern? Or do I realize I can truly conclude nothing about her intellect from this one mistake and instead be grateful that she has chosen the effort of honorable work over other pursuits? What happens to me when I decide to believe the latter? I find peace. Will that be my gift alone? Not at all! It will spread wherever I go that day.
Wherever we go, there we are. And in that place, we bring the peace, or lack thereof, that we have within us at that time. We can choose to maintain peaceful attitudes that grace the others around us, or we can wallow in our concerns, thus adding to the concerns of the world around us.
Choose peace. Choose life.