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I grew up Quaker.

The very nature of my religious upbringing centered around the idea of Peace on Earth and peace within. I have struggled most of my life trying to find the peace within. Like many, I have knee-jerk reactions to situations that offend my sensibilities and people that just plain piss me off. I tend to act first and think later, which seems to be a fairly universal theme that underlies violence in our society. If we, as a human populace, stopped for just one moment to think before we act, there is a very good chance our actions would be different. I believe very strongly in the words of one of my favorite hymns: “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” Likewise, I believe that we should “think globally, act locally.” Peace starts within and spreads like the most wonderful contagion.

It takes no effort to smile at your neighbor—even the one that glares at you when you don’t keep the grass mowed to their satisfaction. Stopping to let a car out at a difficult intersection takes a fraction of a second out of your day—even if they don’t wave in thanks. Talking to your child about how to deal with bullying at school in a non-violent way is crucial to their well being—even if you think he or she isn’t listening at the time. Reaching out to express your opinions in respectful discourse with someone who has an entirely different belief system is a powerfully moving experience—even if they stick firmly to their guns (so to speak).

These are but a few small gestures that we can make each and every day. Yes, we can rally for Peace. We can band together and raise our voices and try to make the powers that be hear us. Or we can listen to that still, small voice inside that tells us to bring it home. This is where peace begins.

And we pay it forward.

And it spreads.

If each of us can find the peace within, imagine how quickly viral peace will spread. Eventually, hopefully, we will find Peace on Earth.