Peace by piece
Catherine Owers | Sunday, March 23, 2014
Over winter break, I decided to organize my bookshelves. I stumbled across Madeline L’Engle’s “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” a very old favorite that was begging to be re-read. I somewhat thoughtlessly tossed it into my suitcase for my return trip to school; as soon as I returned to campus, I promptly forgot about it. Only after my last midterm, searching for something less dense than Augustine, did I remember the book on my shelf.
I sat down, ready for a couple hours of relaxation and distraction, courtesy of L’Engle’s lyrical prose and unparalleled storytelling. I was not expecting to close the fourth book in the “A Wrinkle in Times” series and feel consoled. Given that the plot revolves around the threat of nuclear war, perhaps this is not the most anticipated reaction. It was, however, the underlying emphasis on the importance of small details and deeds that deeply resonated with me.
I was particularly struck by one line: “If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.”
With all the horrors in our world, it is so easy to become disinterested and disenchanted. This line is a reminder of hope and the agency we possess. We are both empowered and challenged to embrace the reality that our actions have larger implications. And as Notre Dame students, we are uniquely poised to impact the world for better with the education we receive and the resources available to us.
The differences we can make in our community, in our dorms and among our friends demonstrate the responsibility we have to “think small.” Support for larger causes is of course crucial and necessary, but we shouldn’t forget the importance of caring for the people we interact with every day, as well as friends and family.
While I can’t end the conflict in Ukraine or Venezuela this afternoon, I can have a meaningful conversation with a friend who is struggling with academic pressure. I can call my grandmother and let her know I am thinking of her. Furthermore, I can create peace within myself by forgiving slights, letting go of grudges or taking responsibility for mistakes.
I fully realize these small deeds aren’t going to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but they are concrete acts that remind people they are valued and cared about. Therefore, I encourage everyone to remember the impact of their daily actions and the differences we can make in our own community.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.