Thursday, December 17, 2009

9 Days to Christmas

And He will be called Prince of Peace...


Peace ought to get governments excited but instead it is often seen as a negotiating tactic. Like silence between words, peace ends up being nothing more than a pause between wars, a photo-opp for politicians or, at best, a simple yet ceremonial act of laying down of arms.

The heart, of course, tells another story.

For the lonely, the distressed, the heartbroken and the rejected, peace is not some sort of a deal for scoring brownie points. Peace is the answer to life's burning questions. It is what they seek to silence their souls and quieten the storms that keeps raging within and without.

Peace may imply different things to different people but the idea remains the same. It is a desire for some sort of an equilibrium that would restore a degree of normality or, at least, what they believe to be normal. This equilibrium, many believe, involves reconciliation in those relationships that are falling apart or broken beyond repair. The return of laughter in their lives is seen as a clinching evidence that peace has returned where strife once ruled.

However, for many more, the heartrending cry for peace does not involve others but themselves. Their search for inner peace is all about restoring the broken walls of self-esteem and a desire to finally be what they could be or would like to be. This disappointment becomes a constant reminder of how less a human they are, and how much more they need to do in order to come close to that ideal.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders...
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.


The Christmas story brings this search for peace into a more accessible and yet unfamiliar terrain. A little baby born in an obscure village seems an unlikely personality to be the 'prince of peace', and yet it is this very oddity that makes everything fall into place. Conventional ideas for securing normality no longer proved tenable, and so a radical message like the 'beautitudes' had to be introduced. And the cross, from being an object of shame, had to be turned into a symbol of hope.

What we learn is that peace can never be gained from treaties alone because they rarely address the core issues. Peace involves a change in the mindset of men and women who demand it in their lives. Peace is not about appearances but involves a surgery of the will. Peace is not only about laying down of arms but a recognition that arms are not the answer. Peace is not about signing papers but turning those words into action and making peace a habit.

True peace involves dying to self because the ego can be a huge obstacle. Its the ego that comes in between. It's ego that needs to go... or better still, the ego needs a new command structure.

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

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