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Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21st. The United Nations’ General Assembly declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

Is peace simply the absence of war and violence? Or, do each of us contribute to peace every day of our lives?
On Saturday, September 19th, I made a trip to the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania to visit my family. I decided to stop at the local mall prior to arriving at my parent’s house. It was a beautiful Saturday with lots of people enjoying a day of shopping with family and friends which suddenly crashed to fear and chaos.

I was inside Macy’s looking at some clothing when I heard what sounded like a stampede and kids screaming. I looked up and saw a bunch of high school kids running so thought they were messing around. Then more and more people were running and someone yelled “Get out, get out someone has a gun.” My first thought was is this for real? Obviously, there was no time for analysis and I just ran to the nearest exit (with the suit jacket still on that I was trying), hopped in my car and quickly drove away. As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw a few police cars entering and then realized this is for real.

Thankfully the news report the next day was that no one was physically harmed—4 rounds shot inside the mall, but no one hurt. However, there were photos of children crying and stories of people hiding until police came to escort them out. Some of the emotional harm was traumatic. The terror and chaos created at that place and time was definitely not a contribution to peace.

We may not be on the top governmental lines to stop wars but we can certainly be responsible for our own inner peace and peace in our communities.

Where does peace begin? It starts with the thoughts we think and words we speak and actions each of us takes. True peace does not come in a pill or a bottle.

Serenity is defined as the state of being calm, peaceful or untroubled. We can work on that each moment for ourselves and our families and contribute to peace in the larger world. We either cause peace or we cause something else.

The short answer is, Peace begins with you and me.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Post By:  Ellen Firestone

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