“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”
It seems to me the most intelligent voices are the voices from our past. No matter how much we try to believe our paths are the super highways to the future, alas our paths very nearly follow a similar earthen road. To enter this New Year I had a very original thought: use quote from the past! Aside from the quip, I think it is interesting to note how even though for all of our resolutions, plans, and vows so we continue the facade of improvement, and wait until the end of the year to search our souls and question where our resolve went.
The Problem: “I just ran out of time.”
We run out of time, because we fail to see the goal within the big picture.
1. Find your goals 2. Make them achievable (weekly, daily, monthly, yearly) 3. Commit to change 4. Make future plans
And now we return to Mister Franklin… His advice is to ‘always be at war with your vices’. What an aggressive word ‘war’ is. No doubt we are familiar with the phrase “at war with ourselves”, and to me that always takes the form of some evil twin fighting wrestling, warring against us. How many times have you found yourself cursing that last cigarette, eating that extra Double Quarter Pounder Cheeseburger, and partaking in that guilty pleasure. It is not about taking the whip to our backs for our sins, but to acknowledge them for what they are, diagnose, and resolve (sound similar your computers security program?).
The word peace: World peace… Inner peace… Peace negotiations…. All of these are meant to sell us on an idea. It is a clever marketing ploy that you see everywhere, because no one thinks to question such a well-wishing word. The world will try to twist its meaning into a device that is malleable to its will, but we must seek out its meaning for ourselves. Peace, in my words (without checking Merriam-Webster for his uncanny wisdom), is: loving a neighbor like yourself, sharing your time and gifts, giving food to a homeless man, serving the less fortunate, etc.
And now here is the dictionary definition:
a : freedom from civil disturbance
b : a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom <a breach of the peace>
b : a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity
Peace between your neighbor is both as close as the family that sits by your side and as far as the human family that sits hundreds of miles away reading these same words. Its as easy as a smile and as difficult as donating some of your hard earned money to a deserving charity! I am not advocating one is better than the other: it is an intensely personal decision.
The point is: peace is given as we allow it to be received and allow ourselves to reciprocate that peace.
Finally, with peace and improvement in our grasp we can work towards our better New Year and our better life. It is possible to defeat our skeletons, and it is possible to bring peace to this world and ourselves in our own way, and it is also possible to come into this new year better than ever.
Acknowledge the Past. Plan for the future. Accept the present.
Be at peace, and bring peace to others.
You will find yourself to be a better person, in no time.