This is a quote by former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, that is displayed as part of the Franklin Roosevelt monument that is also along the tidal basin.
“The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”
It just reminds me that most of us feel like we can’t do anything to bring peace to the world. We think that is the work of the Presidents or the Generals or the Congress or the UN or someone else. But every day, often multiple times every day, we have an opportunity to choose peace in our own lives over anger, hatred, conflict, or even violence. If someone cuts us off in traffic, we choose whether to decide they are a reckless jerk, or we decide that maybe they really have an emergency and so we let it go and wish them well. If our neighbor wakes us up early on a weekend morning with their noisy leaf blower or weed wacker or whatever, we choose whether we decide they are a thoughtless person, or we decide that maybe they have a busy day with company coming and so we let it go and wish them well. If our partner or family member or roommate has left a big mess in the common space, we choose whether we get mad at them or decide to find out what is going on and ask them to clean up without anger, maybe even choosing to assist them in getting the place cleaned up. In each scenario, we can choose peace or we can choose a different response.
That is not to say that choosing peace means you need to be a doormat who allows people to ignore your needs, requests, or boundaries. At least when it’s someone you know, you can always let them know the negative impact on you of what they did and make a request about different behavior in the future. But if you do so in a way that attempts to find common ground rather than to blame, shame, or punish another, those are small steps in waging peace rather than war. I choose to believe that if we all made those small decisions for peace every day in our own lives, that sooner or later, somehow or other, it would show up in the places in the world that are in armed conflict.
To illustrate this international coming-together of people, I’ve chosen this video from one of my favorite groups, Playing for Change. The organization films people all over the world performing the same song. It demonstrates what beautiful music we can make when we collaborate but also maintain our individual backgrounds, personalities, talents, and cultures. Enjoy!