Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t commander in chief or the executive leader of our powerful country. She didn’t single-handedly make powerful decisions that would affect numerous generations after and certainly, no one put a check beside her name on the ballot that fateful November; but, like so many other first ladies America has experienced and from which we have profited, she knew a thing or two about our world today. She only presented this wise information when necessary and in a poised manner. A person had no choice but to stop and pay attention.
A brilliant illustration of this knowledge Mrs. Roosevelt passed on to Americans was a response she once gave when asked about world peace and what she thought needed to be done in order to achieve a thing that seemed unreachable.
She stated, “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.”
Said at a time when no one was quite sure what peace truly represented, this statement was put quite beautifully and tastefully and to the point. People today might believe in true peace to a certain extent but few are willing to commit and do what is necessary to obtain a realistic sense of peace, not just throughout the country, but, more importantly, around the globe.
Let’s face it. Peace isn’t exactly at the top of anyone’s priority list. What people fail to realize is that if we all took the time to allow ourselves the privilege of peace everything would subsequently fall into place.
We have allowed ourselves to focus all our attention on all the wrong things. Machines have printed and will continue to print our paper-based economy, whether this works or not.
The very people who allow this to happen are the same people who wear their paychecks like an invaluable piece of jewelry for everyone to admire.
Is this what we as a human race should base our very existence on? Does the number of zeros on your bank statement define who you are?
Perhaps if the inhabitants of the whole world, not just the United States, put all their materialistic thoughts aside — perhaps, if we did more than simply talk about how provident the concept of peace truly sounded while sitting behind our business desks, and instead took the first step towards achieving this goal. Maybe then, we could allow ourselves to believe. But remember, believing is not enough.
The question for many still remains, “How do you ‘work’ at peace?” The answer to this often-asked question comes in numerous forms, many of which may surprise you. Working at peace doesn’t always have to involve winning a Noble Prize, feeding thousands of starving children in Third World countries, or attending rallies that support the idea of peace. All these things are huge in the progress of peace, but simpler things that people do not find themselves doing enough of can have more of an effect sometimes than painting your face and waving a flag. What is this simple solution to a problem we have always faced you ask? Simple. The little things in life that, more often than not, can only be found in picture books and young children’s imaginations.
There are several examples of these things. Smiling at a stranger in line at a grocery store when they look like they’ve been worn down by the constant demand of life is working at peace. Holding the hand of a lonely older lady as she stumbles to make the light across the street is working at peace. Treating people, strangers and friends alike, with utmost respect is working at peace. Sounds easy I’m aware but the fruit harvested by actually taking the time to pay forward the feeling of wholeness that peace provides is what the world needs today.
As a final thought, I end with three basic concepts, provided by Eleanor Roosevelt herself. Talk, believe, and most importantly, act. This process can be a gradual one but also has to be given effort by everyone. Everyone has to realize what’s possibly at stake if we don’t change something. What problem couldn’t peace fix easily? What value would you rather have internally? With peace comes all else, and according to another fabulous lady that fills the pages of our history books today, Mother Teresa, “Peace begins with a smile.”
It’s as simple as that.