A recent Monitor article highlighting “Eight ingredients for a peaceful society” – as set forth by the Institute for Economics and Peace – reminded me of another set of eight ingredients for peace, from the book of James in the Bible: “[T]he wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (3:17, 18).
Here are the seeds for planting peace in our lives and sowing it into wider fields of endeavor. Cultivating these qualities in our own character not only grows that personal peace that comes from a sense of good purpose, rightness, and confidence, but it also nourishes our desire to make peace in our day-to-day dealings with others. It might even expand our sphere of constructive influence beyond where we live and work, to even global ramifications.
Many of those who have accomplished much toward peace, health, and equality – even in recent human history – attributed their inspiration and courage to “wisdom from above.” Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and, for me, Mary Baker Eddy, come to mind.
While luminaries such as these may not have fully lived up to all those qualities, there’s a clear correlation in their characters. Even a willingness and an effort to approach these ideals open up our receptivity to divine wisdom. It will shape our decisions and actions, bring us an enduring sense of peace, and foster the ability to make peace in our lives.
Let’s take a brief look at how we might plant these qualities in ourselves. First pure: Strive for honesty, transparency, truthfulness with others, and be uninfluenced by corruption or other temptations. Then peaceable: Replace anger or resentment with a calm demeanor, generosity, and appreciation. Gentle: Be more compassionate and kind, not vindictive or put upon. Easy to be entreated: Be less self-centered and opinionated, and be a good listener. Full of mercy: Forgive easily and be patient with others and ourselves. Good fruits: Love your work and persist, focus on meaningful accomplishments. Without partiality: Quell ego, opinion, favoritism with honest meritorious recognition. Without hypocrisy: Live and show the value of these qualities in your own life.
These aren’t qualities of weakness or subservience, but reflect the mature wisdom, discipline, and control we’d love to see in our leaders today. In fact, looking for those who approximate these ideals enables us to choose more “peaceable” elected officials, business partners, even friends and other relationships.
To assimilate these qualities may take some discipline. For me that begins with prayer – humble listening to that higher intelligence, divine Mind, God. It’s an intelligent awareness that true peace, within and without, is the way we’re meant to live. A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier describes this kind of prayer:
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from us now the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
(“Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 49)
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