Being the Peace

I’m so angry today. I don’t know who to be angry at — but I’m furious! I don’t know what to do — but something must be done! So much must be done, where to even start? This is unacceptable! Yet I have to find a way to accept it.

A picture of a bullet against a black backgroundWhen I go to work, there is a little shrine on the sidewalk across the street from my office. This is where 17 year old Reggina Jefferies lay yesterday, after a stray bullet from someone else’s conflict smashed into – and ended – her life. Sitting at my desk, I heard that bullet.

Now, the shrine. While I gather windblown flowers and compose a note about senseless waste, other office workers from neighboring buildings stop by. We piece together our bits of the puzzle. There’s security camera footage that might help. Good.

Later, a crowd gathers – a very quiet crowd. I give up trying to concentrate on work and go down to see what’s happening. The street is partially blocked by people with “Stop the Violence” signs. Other survivors of other murders speak, sad and angry and trying to make sense of it. Then the man who called the gathering says, “Be the peace.”

I see at once that I am not being the peace. I’m too angry sad anxious frustrated disgusted frightened. There’s no peace in me right now. And there isn’t a lot of peace in the gathering, which I have to leave to return to work. It’s not so quiet anymore. But the anger and frustration I can still hear through my open window aren’t making me as anxious and stressed as angry crowds usually do. Today I can relate.

Yet even if I don’t remotely resemble the peace at the moment, or maybe because of that, I can see how being the peace makes sense. Which is saying something in the face of so much senselessness. Unlike all the macro “out there” things – the wounds to heal, the minds to change, the mountains to move – the choice in every moment whether to be the peace (or not) is entirely in each person’s power. Maybe it’s the only thing that really is.

Can I find my own way to being the peace? I don’t know. You’d think if it was easy I’d have already done it. But maybe I just never thought about it that way before. In any case, I’m sure going to try.

Photo of a bird silhouetted against the sun.

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