Halfway through writing this article, I heard about the terror attack in Istanbul. I stopped working and posted a call for prayer on my Accidental Talmudist Facebook page.
I felt a twinge of guilt knowing that the post would probably get good numbers, and indeed it’s got over 3,000 positive reactions in the first few hours.
I posted anyway because community prayer is more important than my feelings. I had an opportunity to be the peace and I seized it.
These events are getting tragically familiar. After Orlando, I posted a similar call and created an initiative: #BeThePeace.
That got smaller numbers. Peace is not a sexy buzzword. It seems to imply inaction. That’s a shame because peace requires tremendous work and commitment.
We have to do more than screech for change after a tragedy. More than make erudite statements of blame. More than “build awareness,” which is often publicity-seeking in the guise of service.
We have to use the tools at hand to do the most good. Soldiers fight. First responders save lives. Donors fund.
The rest of us can emanate peace, which is no small thing.
When public discourse swells around a tragedy, the screeching can reach a very high pitch and that damages all of us.
No matter what idea we’re promoting to create positive change, we need to be a source of peace while doing it.
It begins at home. That’s what I actually wanted to write about today. My family recently participated in a wonderful exercise with nearly a hundred other families. The kids were asked what they appreciate about their parents, and the habits they could adopt to show that appreciation.
We were asked what values we’re committed to as parents, and what gets in the way of enacting them.
The answers were varied, beautiful, and memorable – a huge outpouring of love and tears.
I said, “Peace is a key value in our home. No matter how much we love each other, we can’t thrive without peace, and as a husband and father I am accountable for creating that peace.”
People nodded approvingly.
I said, “And that sounds nice, but the truth is I can get really mad when our kids yell at each other about nonsense, and then I use my big lungs to yell twice as loud in order to restore the peace. It’s ridiculous. So I commit to being a source of peace in my home.
“If the kids breach the peace, I can work with them to end it. I can set boundaries, and enforce consequences if necessary, but I must be a source of peace as I do it. I need to be the peace in my home.”
My kids got it right away, and it’s been working in the days since the exercise.
No matter what solution we’re promoting for the world’s problems, we can and must be the peace as we do it, if only to be more effective.