Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

 Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  But, was it his intent that consideration be extended to the Glen Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world? What about the work setting? Should grappling to browbeat; to impede and exhaust the daily function of another because their own hinge is insecure become a fitting standard for gratitude? Or, foolishness from a disgruntled voter spouting, “It’s know-it-all-liberals like you that ruin this country!” Will we allow the bugbear of small minds to steal our joy? Is it possible those cantankerous mortals we have labeled as being despicable and insensitive actually help us grow?  Are we a better person for being forced to rationally face such encounters using self-discipline?  By disciplining one’s mind, will peace follow? Discipline does relate to the essential nature of obtaining peace. Somalia, for example, lacks discipline. A land ruled by Warlords and ruined cities basically dominated by street gangs. They compete for territory and send out pirates to terrorize shipping off the coast of Africa. Lacking moral discipline, their nation will never know the distinct existence of peace.
In our world, one perceives choice for freedom from oppressive thoughts once  a balance of understanding of ourself and with others is acquired.  Respect emits positive feelings, and those feelings spells peace. However, peace gets lost for those determined to expound adverse criticism as they train their lens upon others. If only peace could be added to the Periodic Table of Elements. Concoctions of sweet  aromatic solutions from new element building blocks could be sealed in vials and labeled as a Peace Elixir for dispensing. Imagine having spiked the Congressional Christmas Party’s “unspecified” punch bowl with a few drops of that!
However, is it possible that there’s an alternative power?  Could we perceive a simple cardboard box as lifting one’s spirit?  We’ve witnessed a child’s fascination with a box. The mascot of their imagination turning that cardboard into whatever tickled their fancy; if but a hideout for themself and their dog. But, what if works of art were unwittingly created while cleaning brushes and painting on a box without  any conscious thought of what was being transformed. Can that empty box hold a key to peace and become an inspiration to the world?  Most of us would answer, huh? Peace in a box?  Most people desire peace. It’s the subject of sermons. Seeing conflicts around the world makes us want it. Hearing conflicts between our political parties, we want it. Choirs sing “Peace on Earth” during the Christmas Season. Peace should be the priority of all nations. It has become so in the world of Artist Franck de Las Mercedes. From his New Jersey studio, he sold his painted portraits of old Hollywood stars on eBay. It was after a post office clerk called attention to his colorful boxes that his “Priority Box Art Project “ took flight. Boxes became free works of art which he hopes will “challenge people with their ability to influence change.”  Most of us would be puzzeled to receive an empty box.  But, what’s important  is on the outside of the box.  Abstract designs? “Symbolic  interactionism?” That term was coined by Sociologist, Herbert Blumer. Interactionists focus on the subjective aspects of social life concentrating on their image of humans rather than on image of society.To them, humans are pragmatic actors who continually must adjust their behavior to the actions of other actors. We can adjust to these actions due to symbolic  interpretation. Humans are seen as active, creative participants who construct their social world. Not as passive, conforming objects of socialization. Significance on symbols, negotiated reality, and the social makeup of society lead to an interest in the roles people play.  And, thus begins the role of this artist. His almost 10,000 boxes share a special message of love, hope, but most of all, peace to every recipient around the globe. Might you be gifted with a box of peace this year?
In 1971, John Lennon gifted us with his lyrical statement of empirical evidence. “Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join  us, and the world will be as one.”  Now, that’s a peaceful thought. . . . .And that’s my opinion.

(Sharen Jergenson of Heber Springs writes her “And that’s my opinion column... “ for The Sun-Times monthly)