“Finding Peace,” July 2, 2018

If you have traveled for long on this rocky road called life, you might’ve noticed that it is a beautiful and baffling blend of conflict and peace.

It’s not just one or the other. It’s both. To experience both conflict and peace, and embrace them as gracefully and honestly as we can, is what it means, I believe, to be truly alive.

Almost 30 years ago, I was a feature writer for a newspaper when my editor called me into his office and said he wanted me to start writing a column.

“About what?” I asked.

“Think about it,” he said.

So I thought about it all evening while keeping score for my son’s baseball game.

There were many fine columnists writing about all sorts of things. What could I possibly have to say that wasn’t already being said by someone who was smarter and far better at it than I would ever be?

The answer to that question would change not only my job, but my life. It came to me at the end of the game when I heard the coach tell his young team (who had lost another “close one”) not what they did wrong, but what they did right:

“You guys gave it your best today,” he said. “I was proud of you, and you should be proud, too. See you at practice tomorrow!”

It occurred to me that most newspaper columns, not all, but many, focus on conflict — on the countless things we get wrong in this world and the ways that we might make them right.

That is as it should be. Someone needs to write about conflict, clearly and honestly and compellingly, to help us understand and resolve it. But that was being done, and done well, I thought, both then and now.

So I decided instead to write about peace. About ordinary, everyday matters of the heart. Things most of us can agree on, rather than argue about. That tell us who we are and how we are alike. That bring us together rather than drive us apart.

I’ve never done it half as well as I wish I could. But in every column I’ve ever written, I’ve tried in some way to say: We are all in this together. We need to care for each other, rely on each other, and put up with each other as best we can. It’s a matter of faith and humanity, practicality and survival.

In my personal life, I don’t ignore conflict. It refuses to be ignored. Somedays, perhaps like you, I feel as if I’ve reached my limit. When that happens, I turn my face to the sun, listen for the laughter of those I love, take a deep breath, and begin again.

We never need to search for conflict. It will always find us. But to understand and resolve it, we need to begin by finding peace within ourselves and offering it to those around us.

How do we do that? I don’t know what brings you peace. For me, it helps to remember that I’m not in charge of the world. There are some things I can do (pray, mostly) and a lot of things that I can’t. Either way, life goes on with or without me.

How do we offer peace to one another and to the world? Do you recall some of the things we were taught as children?

_ Stop shouting and listen.

_ Stop name calling and speak your mind with respect.

_ Use your words, not your fists.

_ Ask excellent questions. Don’t interrupt. Wait to hear the answers.

_ Seek first to understand before trying to make yourself understood.

_ Be polite, but persistent. Never give up, or give in to injustice. Speak for others who can’t speak for themselves.

_ Do your best everyday in the game of life. Be proud of your efforts and those of your teammates. And always show up for practice tomorrow.

Peace is both the beginning and the end result of conflict resolution. We have to seek it and offer it to find it.

But it is the very best that we can do.

 

Comments

  1. Anita Hagan says:

    Sharon, The Evansville Courier really lost out. You were one of the few highlights and it is such a disappointment they are not caring your column any longer. I have struggled with the decision of cancelling the paper, because I like the ritual of sitting down with the paper and reading it. This has been another poor decision by the paper and made our decision to cancel much easier. I’m glad I found your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. Karen says:

    Wonderful timely words of advise. In an age of such divisiveness it is so important to stop the mouth and listen with the heart before commenting on things we know nothing about. Its important to stand for good and justice and equity but do so with compassion for everyone.

  3. Brenda Graves says:

    I am among your fans who missed your column in the Evansville Courier. So thrilled to find you online!

  4. Sonya says:

    I, like others in our area from reading above, found you on-line, and I am so glad! I don’t understand why the Evansville Courier dropped your column (and several other writers I enjoyed reading). Your column was the main reason I kept my subscription, and I looked forward to it each week.
    My sister and I were able to come hear you speak several years ago in town – we also got to say hello at the book table. It was a pleasure meeting you!
    Please continue to write, and I’ll continue to read!

  5. jenny moline says:

    Pslam 61:2 Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Life does go on 🙂

  6. Martha says:

    Great commentary! Words to help me to do the best I can!

  7. Kimberly Mitchell-Glenn says:

    Just read your “Peace” column and agree with all of it but one thing. You say you have never written your column half as well as you wish you could. I think you do an awesome job! I look forward to your column every week in the Meadville Tribune. Keep doing just as you are, please.

  8. Jackie Hankinson says:

    You knocked this one out of the ballpark! Thank you’

  9. Kate Sciacca says:

    Must begin by offering condolences on Colorado… tough series…

    Perfect perspective. Usually the conflict battles within our own souls – yes? But we still do our best to show up for practice tomorrow 🙂

    Hope your 4th was blessed with BBQ’s, watermelon (dang I picked an awesome one this year!) and little people in awe of fireworks. We spent it with all the grands (and a few extra “adopted grands”) – watched the All Star play, unfortunately, his final game. He CANNOT WAIT, to show up for practice, next spring 🙂

  10. rita henke says:

    I love and look forward to your columns every week. I have not seen it in the Evansville courier for the last few weeks, so I am happy to find your columns on line. thanks you .

    • Sharon Randall says:

      Rita, thank you so much for your kind note! I was sorry to hear recently from the Evansville Courier that, after more than 20 years of carrying my column, they were dropping it. No explanation for why. I’m glad you found it on the website, but I will miss hearing from other readers in your area! Thanks for continuing to read it! Here’s wishing you and your family all the best!
      Sharon

      • Diane Hale says:

        I quit taking their paper a few years back, and one of the reasons I took it for so long was because of your column. Then I found your website. I even came to see you when you were in town a few years ago. I look forward to this every week!! Keep up the good work!!

      • Claudia Dant says:

        I stopped subscribing to the Evansville Sunday Courier about a year ago when another column I looked forward to every week went missing and the carrier could not get the paper to our home before church when I wanted to read it. When I discovered your column online along with The Peoples Pharmacy, I knew I could do without the Courier. So sorry they did not appreciate your column as much as the readers do.

  11. Christine Seal says:

    Thank you for posting on Facebook. I think the Evansville Courier no longer carries your column. I miss you!

    • Sharon Randall says:

      Thanks, Christine, you’re right. The Evansville Courier no longer carries my column. It’s nice to hear I’m missed! All the best to you and your family!
      Sharon

  12. Becky says:

    Although your message isn’t titled about July 4th, it’s an important message for our country as we celebrate our freedom and the privileges we have. Along with freedom, we have the responsibility to remember that everyone has these rights and strive to ensure that all can enjoy life to its fullest in this great nation!

  13. Perfect, Sharon. Just what I needed to hear today and every day.
    As somebody I know and admire often says,
    Grace and Peace,
    Bruce

  14. Debra Beasley says:

    You have always been my favorite columnist—glad to see this on FB because we quit getting the Sunday paper😊

  15. Doris says:

    Oh, how I needed to hear this today! Thanks so much and many blessings.

  16. Patti says:

    I have loved your words for years Sharon. I wish that people would be this way. I especially wish news writers would stop the hate, then maybe people would share more love. Keep up the wonderful words!

  17. Tom Walton says:

    He must have been a very wise editor.

  18. Portia Waters says:

    And our little corner of the world is better for having you write ! Thank you, Sharon, for all the you share; there are plenty of things in this world to tear us down and apart – you remind us that we are in this together and the need to build each other up !

  19. Kay North says:

    OMGoodness Sharon, you must have read my FB post today! I’ve read your column for years, met you twice in Ft. Smith & ate at the places in Monterey & Pacific Grove that you suggested a few years ago in answer to my question about what to do & where to eat in your town(s).
    Without going into detail, the last two years in America have really done a number on my:
    Nerves
    Disposition
    Anger limit
    Vocabulary
    Mouth
    I’ll have more important things to worry about in a couple of days when one of my children & their family embark on a road trip to Chicago & Milwaukee. I know fully well that my worrying won’t change anything that happens while they’re away (here OR there) However, I can “turn my face to the sun, listen for the laughter of those I love (even if it’s only in my mind), take a deep breath, and begin again. Thank you for the perfect column for me on this day.

  20. Love it, Sharon! Welcome home to the fog…

  21. Sarah Webster says:

    Thank you for all your columns and especially for this one. We all need peace.

  22. Carol Sparks says:

    We have stopped taking our paper and I was sad because I would miss reading your column every Monday. I found your website and now I have it on my favorite list and can read your words every single day if I so desire.
    You put into words how I feel about a lot of things and give me ideas of how I can do better to do things for others.
    Please do not stop sharing your thoughts. We need writers like you to help us slow down and actually live our life without always worrying about the future!

  23. Linda Hill says:

    Very well said, my friend. Since my precious husband died, almost two years ago, I have embraced my new life. It was either do that or be miserable for the rest of my life.
    I practice being kind, trying to listen better, and greet each day with hope.
    For now it is enough.

  24. Pamela Dailey says:

    I love your columns. I believe you write from your heart and it makes my heart glad to read your words of wisdom. This one today I especially needed today. Thank You! Keep writing and sharing with us your devoted readers please.

  25. Fred Hernandez says:

    I love you.

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