“We are all children of God, and God is the God of peace”. – Pope Francis
— Ignatian Solidarity (@IGsolidarityNET) September 21, 2016
Today is the International Day of Peace, and I am struggling to feel peaceful. I woke up this morning determined to write something (again) about how this political season has spotlighted those who talk about people in ways that are degrading and inappropriate. But then I heard that there were protests in Charlotte over killings by police, and I thought of following up on something I wrote in the past about protests and riots. ThenThen I read a vitriolic angry article about politics and agreed with every word. Then I listened to a story about anti-Semitic attacks on journalists and I became flush with anger at such hatred. My heart is troubled and I am angry at an unjust world.
Today the Dalai Lama tweeted “we must remember that peace cannot come from prayer alone. It requires action.”
On this International Day of Peace, we must remember that peace cannot come from prayer alone. It requires action. #PeaceDayChallenge
— Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) September 21, 2016
He added the hashtag PeaceDayChallenge, but I read in his words more comfort than a challenge. Even when my prayers are not peaceful I can act in peace, and such actions may calm the frustration in my soul and allow peace to take hold.
The world is crazy and we have easy access to information about the nonsense and injustices that rage. I think I am right to be angry about injustice, but if I can’t hold the anger and the peace in my heart at the same time I need to cultivate peace.
I do this by being prudent with my language, and endeavor at which I regularly fail. I do this by analyzing my reactions to things in the hope of ensuring my anger is truly righteous. I do this by reading things that enrich me and taking breaks from social media. I do this through prayer.
I believe that peace and anger can live with each other. Anger is a natural reaction that does not necessarily drive out virtue. When I was at my sickest, anger, hope and faith all nestled together in a confused soul in a broken body. We have hearts that can hold it all.
Learning to be peace without being passive, learning to feel peace while still feeling the pain of a sinful world – these are challenges. Most of us will have to work hard at these things, but this is the noblest work, and part of the work of our lives.
How do you keep a peaceful heart in a troubled world?