It was an image that I saw Saturday night on television that seemed long overdue. The image of the New Year’s “ball drop” in New York City officially letting us know that 2016 was over. And it was that image which couldn’t have come any sooner.
It goes without saying that 2016 was a divided and difficult year in our country. It started with a polarized political campaign that illustrated a lot of anger Americans have living in a nation that is divided politically, racially, and economically. And it ended with us seeing the many unresolved social issues which have led Americans to feel angered and isolated from one another. No matter whom we voted for in the 2016 presidential election, it’s this division which we now see in our country that is prohibiting ourselves from moving forward together as a country and as a people.
However, this division isn’t only found among Americans from different political parties. But is also found in our personal lives. From divisions in families to divisions in relationships with loved ones. These divisions cause us to feel not only isolated and alienated from one another. But they also cause us to have feelings of resentment and grief which can be particularly noticeable during the holiday seasons.
Seeking peace whether it’s between those with opposing religious or political ideologies, between two families members who have isolated themselves from each other for many years, or just seeking the peace of mind over aspects which are holding us back, peace must be pursued. And through the courageous and disciplined practices of listening, discerning, grieving, and accepting, it can be found.
“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe,” writes theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
As we find ourselves beginning a new year in our lives and in our country, we must empower each other to pursue peace in our world through reaching out to those in our communities and in our neighborhoods. But we also most empower ourselves to seek peace in our own lives with family members, neighbors, and most importantly, within ourselves. Even if it means swallowing our pride at times.
“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace,” writes author Elizabeth Gilbert.
May this be the year we as a country find peace between each other as Americans and may this also be the year you find peace in your life.