I love the quote from Mother Teresa – now Saint Teresa – because it speaks to our most basic need to belong. It speaks to what our world needs so much at this moment: peace.
These days, it can feel hard to find peace when every week seems to be going by so fast. Every day races by, and every minute, a new story grabs your attention, only to be replaced by another.
Confirmations. Filibusters. Immigration bans. No bans. Showdowns. Debates. Conflicts of interest. Ethics, judges, and executive orders. Coretta Scott King. Kellyanne Conway. Jeff Sessions. Melissa McCarthy. Missing jerseys. Nordstrom. Oh, and yes, “she persisted.”
And that’s just skimming the surface.
I, for one, want to slow it down. Slow it all down. I want to slow down and take a step back from it all so that I can really think about the pathway to peace in this ever-changing world.
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about peace and how it’s connected to our sense of belonging and acceptance. I have come to learn that once you can accept yourself — once you can accept the dark and the light that exists in all of us — you’re on your way to finding peace.
Peace within leads to peace in your home, your community, and your country. On New Year’s Eve, I stood around a fire pit with my kids and stated that acceptance was going to be my theme for the year. Acceptance of myself and of others. Acceptance of what is, without losing my belief and resolve to chart a new way forward when necessary.
I write about belonging and acceptance because I think it is what underlies so much of the divisive debate playing out in our culture. Who belongs and who gets to decides who belongs?
Growing up, my father never let us belong to the country club near our home because he said the club didn’t accept African Americans or Jews. He told us we couldn’t belong to a place that didn’t accept everyone. That has stuck with me my entire life.
America’s story has always been one of acceptance. People left places where they felt they didn’t belong and traveled here to America, where everyone could belong and where everyone could be accepted. I’m a descendant of immigrants, and my children’s father is a first generation immigrant. Our country is made up of so many people who came here looking for a place to belong.
When I watched Airbnb’s Super Bowl commercial called “We Accept,” it made me think about how the need to belong lives in all of us.
We all want to belong. We all want to be accepted. Recognizing that we share this desire can help us see our shared humanity.
So, as we live in the midst of this never-ending news cycle — one filled with stories about politicians debating who belongs and who is accepted — I encourage us all to slow down. Slow down the news, slow down our conversations, and slow down life so that we can connect more authentically, listen more attentively, and act more civilly and civically towards one another.
Saint Teresa is right. We do belong to each other. Once we accept that truth, we will be on our path to peace.
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