“If everIMG_3618 there were a place, it’s here. If ever there was a time, it’s now. Peace on Earth.” Thus reads the cover of our holiday greetings card.

These cards are left over from previous years, the years we actually sent out cards. For the past few years, we’ve opted to give ourselves time out, a gift of rest for the season. After a year of hard work, a brief hideaway to ourselves is the greatest gift of all.

With all the horror and conflict we see every day on the news, beheadings, air-strikes, millions of people forced out of their homes, with no place to go, it’s easy for us to feel despair, easy for us to retreat into our comfortable nest, easy for us to be quiet while others kill; or shout, scream and demean our fellow human beings. The news bombards our ears and brings tears to our eyes. “Turn it off. Turn it off,” my inner voice says.

But turning it off—hiding away is not an appropriate response in a democracy. Our democracy will endure only if we the people do our part, only if we support the bill of rights, only if we speak out to calm the waters, only if we respect each other’s voices, only if we get out to vote when the time comes. Keeping quiet is not an option. When our country’s basic values are threatened, it’s time to speak up.

So what can we do? Here is my list:

  • Keep informed. Be open to a wide spectrum of news and opinion. Don’t just stick to those with whom you agree.
  • Join organizations that are working to maintain good government. OneVirginia2021.org, a non-partisan organization, is an example in Virginia.
  • Get active in your community and let your voice be heard to your local, state and national representatives.
  • Tune in to thoughtful discussions of current issues, especially those that present different points of view. The Miller Center (http://millercenter.org/events/upcoming) and the Diane Rehm Show (https://thedianerehmshow.org) are among my favorites.
  • Get out to vote. Study the issues, get to know the candidates. Make a difference.

Yes, we’ll get some rest over the holidays—and we’ll celebrate the friends and clients we’ve privileged to know. But now it the time, here is the place to work together for peace on earth.