BY CECIL ACUFF
Husband-wife team Sy Miller and Jill Jackson wrote the song Let There Be Peace. In 1955, they introduced it to a group of teens selected from diverse religious, racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds. One summer later, 180 lads and lassies at a mountain workshop formed a circle, and locked arms to sing the Song of Peace.
Everyone hoped that the simple sentiment of the Miller-Jackson song – “let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” – would become a part of the efforts of people everywhere who dream of and strive to create a climate for world peace and understanding.
Columnist Lee Ann Barton, a verbivore – one who devours and is obsessed by words – used PEACE as an acronym for various words:
– Pace Emotions Amid Crazy Existence.
– Project Exceptional Ability of Calm Exterior.
– Persevere, Exhale, Appreciate, Compliment, Embrace.
– Promote Effectual Alliance Constructing Equality.
– Pleasant Earnest Attitude Curbs Extinction.
– Perfect by Example Actual Compassionate Encounters.
– Practice Everyday Altruistic Christian Ethics.
– Prayer Executed After Conscious Efforts.
Barton says, “Peace is a presence – a way of life.” True, but for some nations and legions of individuals, peace is only a fantasy turned into a nightmare, especially during the Christmas holidays.
Dave Garroway was the first anchor [1952-61] of the Today show. At times, Garroway would introduce the show with, “And how are you about the world today? Let’s see what kind of shape it’s in; there is a glimmer of hope.” But Garroway, known for his signoff, saying “peace” with an upraised palm, had no peace within – he committed suicide July 21, 1982.
The tenet of peace is universal, sought by individual, couples and multitudes. The Peace song expresses that creed, and assigns responsibility – let it begin with me.
Sadly, the song is little heard during the holidays.
John Greenleaf Whittier said, in 1853, “Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew.”
Commercial cards of Christmas express love, goodwill, and peace. Buy the card, quickly sign it, stamp it; duty is done – whew, the cards are mailed. Actually, quite impersonal, right? Just as a church song-leader said to the congregation, “Our closing hymn today is Take Time To Be Holy – but in the interest of time, skip the second and third verses.”
Why not give a precious and costly gift – time. Write a personal infomercial, or a shared memory. Search for just the proper word to express love, goodwill and peace. The words may not rhyme, but they’re your very own, “I want to take this time to …”
This holiday season, take time to give word gifts to food-servers, door-holders, loved ones and friends – or just a stranger-in-passing. Comment on smiles, humor, school, traits or appearances. Write a note, ask a question, sing a song, Let There Be Peace or Thomas A. Dorsey’s hit gospel song, “There will be peace in the valley for me, someday … there will be peace in the valley for me, I pray.”
Make someone happy, and you will be happy, too! And, the holiday season can last all year long!
– Cecil Acuff lives in Perkins, OK and is an occasional contributor to The Oklahoma Observer