Peace on Earth – is communication the key?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
Though that’s a fairly profound statement, somehow I’m reminded of the old song and the familiar lines of disagreement …

You say either and I say either,
You say neither and I say neither
Either, either, Neither, neither
Let’s call the whole thing off.

You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.
Let’s call the whole thing off

We can smile at those words and enjoy the jaunty music but there’s a message there on how personal difference – or preference perhaps – can fracture a relationship!

We all have our differences, likes and dislikes, habits and distortions.  So to truly communicate, we first need to nourish tolerance, because within those differences, not one of us can guarantee the absence of human error.  Any person is capable of dropping clangers, overlooking emphases that are meaningful to others, of appearing neglectful or to put it bluntly, of making all kinds of mistakes that may lead to misunderstandings.

The coming Festive season is meant to carry the truth that underlies the goal of peace.  Peace comes through the practice of love and tolerance.  Love brings the right smile, the shining eyes and the welcoming body language.  Love is about giving out, not taking away!  And true giving means that we sincerely care about others, in particular, the most important people in our own lives.  When real love exists, the barriers of words and sentences are irrelevant because love exchanged means that care and esteem are simply taken for granted.

It is a sad fact though, that for many people communication of any kind may paint a different picture.  How often do we hear the cry, ‘I’m dreading Christmas again’ simply because previous Christmases have been the central point in a family dispute.  Often big problems arise from small, accidental blunders which may lead to hurt that stays alive enough to be remembered long after the incident itself.    And they are only the small problems – many can relay far worse and the on-flow of great unhappiness for all concerned.

Says Mark Twain, forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.  What a lovely thought!  Let’s hope violets are in bloom somewhere in the world, around as many Christmas tables as possible.

In the absence of violets, here are some representations of the ever popular holly:holy

Holly has stood for joy and peace; people are known to have settled disagreements beneath the holly tree. Holly sprigs have been believed to have the power to ward off witches, goblins, bad dreams and thunder and lightning.  A traditional superstition around holly warns that if a home is decorated with a prickly type of holly, the husband will rule the home for the year. If the home is decorated with a smooth type of holly, the wife will rule.  Best watch your choice of holly!

According to the Flower Essence Society, the holly tree was a holy tree to the Druids. During the winter solstice, when the sacred oak tree had lost its leaves, the Druid priests would wear sprigs of holly in their hair as a testimony that the world would remain beautiful in spite of the desolation of the winter weather.  I trust that this sentiment will also apply to any kind of desolation within humanity.

The traditional old Christmas carol titled “The Holly and the Ivy” describes the characteristics of the holly in terms of their meaning to Christianity. The lily-white flower of the holly tree represents the purity of Jesus Christ. The bright red berries represent His blood. The prickly edge of the leaves symbolize the crown Christ wore at His crucifixion. The bitterness of the bark is a reference to the gall, or vinegar-like wine, that Christ was given while He hung on the cross.  At that point, the ability for Christ to forgive those who brought him to this state was supreme communication at the climax of his suffering – and central to the power of love, which is why we give gifts to those we love at Christmas time.

My wish in this blog at the close of 2014 is that all celebrations everywhere throughout the world will communicate the many aspects of love to people everywhere; but most of all, may that love bring the promise of personal and universal peace.

       Pauline McKinnon, December 2014