Perhaps the way to achieve world peace is to be more peaceful.
Perhaps the way to have less hate in this world is to be less hateful.
Perhaps the way to create a more loving world is to be more loving.
The quote “love is a verb” is one that I’ve seen used more times than I can count. It’s written about, sung about, and made into pretty calligraphy that we hang on the walls of our home.
It’s even a John Mayer song.
It is true—love is about doing. It’s about showing up for that special person. It’s holding their hand and wiping their tears and resting your head on each other’s shoulder. It’s warm embraces. It’s patience. It’s giving and taking, and talking and listening. All of these actions have one thing in common: they’re all about doing.
But the thing that we tend to forget is that hate is also a verb—and so is peace. And sometimes the act of hating and the disruption of peace do not resemble the worst moments of our human history. Sometimes the picture isn’t as strong as Nazis and graffiti and gunfire—sometimes it’s something a bit more subtle.
Sometimes it’s engaging in gossip when you know you should just smile and walk away.
Sometimes it’s engaging in social media content that serves no purpose other than to tear someone apart.
Sometimes it’s leaving an antagonizing comment on Facebook threads without care or consideration for whose eyes it comes across because it was important to “make your point.”
Sometimes it’s looking the other way when you see a homeless person on the street, rather than seeing a human being in front of you.
Sometimes it’s looking the other way when you know you could help, but you don’t want to get involved because it’s not your problem.
Sometimes it’s believing the lies we tell about one another.
Sometimes it’s believing the lies we tell about ourselves.
Sometimes it’s something else entirely.
We are constantly calling for a more loving, peaceful, tolerant world.
We write about this world, we preach about this world, and we make films about this world. We post memes, graphics, and poignant quotes about it on our social media streams. We pray about it as we go to sleep, and we have conversations about it with the ones we love most.
To feel called to create a better world for everyone is a calling that is beautiful, wonderful, and good.
But it’s a calling that must be met with action and self-reflection, too.
It’s easy to stop the flow of conversation when you don’t like what someone has to say and tell them how they’re wrong or how to be better.
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re doing that as some sort of call to action, that you’re dismissing them for the greater good.
But if you want the world to be filled with grace, you must give the grace you wish to be given.
Dismissing someone or preaching to them or telling them that they’re wrong does not get you to achieve peace, love, or lasting harmony. It just shuts down a conversation and halts progress in its tracks.
It’s the point at which a connection is lost instead of found.
And aren’t we all trying to have a deeper connection with one another and the world in which we live?
And isn’t that connection the trail that leads to this place of peace we all seem to seek?
If you wish to have a more loving, peaceful, and tolerant world, you must be a more loving, peaceful, and tolerant person. And you must strive to be this way always, not just when it’s convenient for you.
It’s easy to sit with and love people who reflect your own values and dreams. It’s harder to sit with those who think and believe differently than you. It can be uncomfortable to listen to their story when all you want to do open your own mouth and tell them how they’re wrong.
But when you sit with them, you start paving the way towards peace.
When you listen to them, you open up a connection that can bloom into mutual respect and understanding.
It’s not enough to want a loving, tolerant, and more peaceful world. You must embody that want in everything that you do.
You must be the love, tolerance, and peace that you preach and seek.