Much gets written each holiday season about the desperate need for peace in our world. And yet, despite these universal admonitions for peace from political and religious leaders across every creed, culture, race and religion around the world, I sometimes wonder if there’s something buried deep within the human genome that drives our need for constant sabre rattling and conflict. Some would say it all goes back to Cain and Abel.
After all, since time immemorial, humans have subjected each other to war, conflict, skirmishes, invasions, subjugations and even genocide, so there must be something in our evolutionary tree that drives this primal human behavior. In fact, it’s been pointed out that nearly every major scientific and technological advance upon which we’ve built our modern world originated in the laboratory of war.
The problem with perpetual low-grade conflict is that like anything else, we tend to get used to it. Except, of course, those of us who have dedicated ourselves to serving our country in the armed forces or who are close to someone who has been on the battlefield. Modern warfare for many of us has been relegated to an abstract concept, as artificial as a video game or the latest Netflix series. A nuclear-tipped ICBM pointed our way from a hostile regime halfway round the world is certainly less simple to grasp than the day-to-day issues we encounter in our everyday lives.
In the spirit of the season, as I ponder these issues and honor those who serve, I find myself reviewing the canon of songs that inspire us to contemplate and embrace peace at a personal level. One of my favorites is “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” performed by a choir of children called the Angel Choir.
The song has an interesting history that dates back to 1955, the heart of the Cold War. That summer, a group of 180 teenagers from all races and religions participated in a workshop atop a California mountain. At one point, they locked arms and together sang this moving anthem, which is most resonant for me because it demands of each of us that we must “let it begin with me.”
During this holiday season, I challenge you to contemplate how you can let peace begin with you in your own lives. (c) Tyra Manning 2017