Today, like people everywhere, I prayed for peace in the places on the planet where people are dying in war and countless lives are upended. Quite frankly feeling powerless to do anything other than pray, I wondered what else I might do? I was surprised to get an answer – let peace begin with you. It did not take long for me to connect the answer to the challenge I face daily to ignore life’s annoyances, to overlook slight or even large offenses or to disregard the abhorrent behavior of others. Perhaps you understand.

If you work or live with others, you know that trivial things take on importance when they accumulate. While it may be easy to ignore one small thing, it is more difficult to ignore patterns of behavior that you find annoying. Certain circumstances irritate – it may be the neighbor who does not rake the leaves in autumn that inevitably find their way onto your property, the coworker or family member who often takes the last cup of coffee without making more or the updates to your appliances. I for one can honestly say that there are buttons on our stove that I have no idea how to use. And you do not want to hear my rant about computers and other electronic gizmos that are supposed to make our lives easier! Somedays to be honest, it is hard to disregard the annoyances or to choose not to quibble about them.

Yet another thing that rankles are hearing people say things that are downright offensive. Our lists may differ but include racial slurs, ethnic jokes, sexist remarks and derogatory comments about the more vulnerable. Worse yet, are acts of animosity – the driver who throws trash at the person panhandling at the traffic light or the person throwing stones at a stray animal. How do you react?

Staying positive in the face of abhorrent behavior is harder still. Daily newspapers are full of examples – sexual violence, murder, corporate greed, lust for power. Cancelling newspaper subscriptions might be a good tactic but these realities seep into social media and are embedded in the story lines of books, television, video games and movies. Quite frankly, I do not think there is any complete escape.

I am no expert on energy but I do understand that thoughts, emotions and actions all carry energy and as they move outward this energy impacts others and contributes to the energetic milieu of the planet. This means while we may be praying for peace our reactions to our own life and the happenings in the world at large may be neutralizing the power of our prayers.

I am among those who view the circumstances that we are living in as a struggle between the forces of light and darkness. I do not mean to oversimplify the battle which is visible on every level of society – from the personal to the global but I lack better descriptors. That is why I realized today that I am not powerless when it comes to peace, and neither are you.

I can let peace begin with me and so can you.

I do not pretend that this is an easy task. I know myself too well. I know my triggers. I know my reactions. And today I was reminded that is the work on which I can focus.

I used to naively say that all it would take for world peace is for everyone to wake up tomorrow and declare I choose peace. On one level this wish is overly simplistic. Yet in the broadest sense, it is true.

When we discuss peace we often focus on the decisions that governments make. Détente is the easing of hostility or strained relations between two countries yet it applies here. But what about the thoughts that influence our emotions and propel our actions. If instead of getting frustrated with my computer I responded more calmly, I would be sending more positive energy out into the ether. More significantly, if I decided to declare a truce rather than continuing a long-standing family argument, I will not only be healing a relationship but once again I will be sending more positive energy out into the world. For you it might be to bury the hatchet with a former spouse, or to finally release the animosity towards a former lover or friend who betrayed. How incredible would that be for you and the energy you beam out into the world?!

The point is, even in my small corner of the world, I can let peace begin with me and so can you.

In high school during assemblies, we often sang Let There Be Peace on Earth. For sure, the nuns wanted to make sure that they indelibly embedded the song’s message. I find myself humming and singing it occasionally. The answer to my prayer came this morning as did the song. If you have not heard it before or want to enjoy it again here is a link to a version performed by The Boys’ Choir of Harlem.

Let it be a reminder to all that peace begins with me.