The Fruit of Love is Peace

In my lifetime I've had more than my share of close calls. As I look back on those incidents I rejoice and am thankful that my guardian angel works overtime. There's a marvelous witticism in an Annie Lennox lyric that so aptly captures the downright frustration many of us feel in dealing with life's challenges. The great Scottish singer-songwriter in her ballad, "Cold," tells us, "Dying is easy. It's living that scares me." Sometimes I think my life reads like a soap opera—son's suicide, divorce, cancer survivor, two children involved in near-death car accidents, loss of my daughter-in-law, several near-death experiences, earthquake survivor, numerous surgeries, military death in the family, survivor of terrorism and of hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the Pacific Ocean—but I'm certainly not ready to abandon the ship of life. I continue to be an optimist, a sentimental fool, the dreamer who wallows in the prospects of a utopian world void of evil and tyranny.

Sometimes I wake up believing that to "make love, not war" is impossible in the face of human frailties and weaknesses. The world can never be a perfect place, because people are not perfect. We are victims of a vast complex of human prejudices that are difficult to understand, let alone combat. Religious strife continues unabated as a cornerstone of international conflict, as it has for centuries. The human race continuously proves it is capable of heinous crimes. However, when I get too down on myself and the world around me, and need inspiration, I reflect on Mother Teresa, an ethnic Albanian whom I consider to be the greatest person of the twentieth century. Her legendary charitable work was the embodiment of integrity and humility. She dedicated her life to serving "the poorest of the poor," from her base in Calcutta, India. When she died in 1997, her Missionaries of Charity had nearly four thousand nuns and ran nearly six hundred orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and clinics around the world. And when critics questioned her Nobel Peace Prize, she replied with the noblest and most divine words that I have ever heard, and which still ring in my ears: "The fruit of service is love, and the fruit of love is peace."