When we were younger, my brother and I fought. A lot. This was to the benefit of my sister, since our punishment was typically to work together cleaning the kitchen, meaning she had months of practically no kitchen cleaning chores. I remember, after one disagreement, my dad telling us, "If we can't have peace at home, how can we expect to have peace in the world?" Following the news of the conflict in the Ukraine makes me grateful to be an American. I'm grateful that we have safety and security in our own homes and neighborhoods and don't go to sleep at night afraid that our house will accidentally be shelled by artillery.
Our world has a vast array of cultures, ethnicities, and modes of thought. Each of us carries our own unique worldview, which has been informed by our upbringing and experiences. What my dad told my brother and I all those years ago still rings true today; in order to end violence and hatred in the world, we must start in our homes.
At the end of the day, you control you. You control your emotions and reactions to any given situation. You decide how you'll act and how you'll respond. Whether it be a potential conflict with your wife, child, coworker, or neighbor, it's up to you to choose your actions. There's a growing interest in scientific research into the reaction of the brain to outbursts of anger. Toxins are released into the body which, long term, can contribute to poor health. Even when a great injustice is done to you, you can still choose to patiently, calmly, and forcefully, respond. Although no one would argue that it's an easy choice.
If we can't have peace at home, where can we? Our single biggest opportunity to influence the world for the better is through our children. Kids take all of their cues from their parents, which means that if you model a strong, calm demeanor, they'll take note. Families also provide a great opportunity for us to be able to learn how to work with people. As a microcosm of society, the family gives us a small playground to test out emotions and reactions to different situations. Often, we respond poorly, and need to make amends. At other times, however, we can respond with the strength and calm that we espouse, and can see the real, immediate impact. It's of the utmost importance that we labor endlessly to foster and promote peace in our family. After all, if the proverbial world peace cannot be achieved, we can at least make progress in our tiny corner of the world.
Not surprisingly, attitudes towards people are generally formed in one's youth. In today's society, those attitudes most often are formed with a political basis. A family who are members of one political party will trash talk the opposing party and the child will likely assume the political views of their parents. In some cases, there may even be a degree of racism passed on. We can help stop the cycle with the next generation. The struggle will be overcoming our own views and presenting a clean view to our children. Instead of teaching kids that they're entitled to something or should be given certain advantages because of past injustices, we should teach them to have pride in who they are and to share their story with the world.
We will not have peace anywhere until we can have peace in our homes. By better controlling our reactions, modeling good behavior for our kids, and teaching them to have pride in their heritage, we can bring peace to the world, home by home, block by block, and community by community.