Sunday, March 15, 2009

Choosing Peace

At some point I'm going to have to change my profile and let newcomers know that there is a point to the rather eclectic offerings contained within my blog: they offer insights into what makes me happy. On Sundays I try to comment on something for which I am particularly grateful, something upon which I can rejoice (my "word for the year").

I had another week full of quotidian joys. I even managed to squeeze in 3 birthday celebrations (in the same day!) with dear friends. It's easy to feel happy when all the good stuff is happening. It takes some effort to feel happy when what you are faced with something that is not so pleasant.

This week I had a pretty challenging phone conversation with my father. He wants his grandson vaccinated. My husband and I decided not to vaccinate for many reasons and after sharing the evidence upon which we based our decision, my father still believes that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

It became obvious rather quickly in our discussion that I was not going to convince him that I was "right", nor was he going to convince me that I was "wrong". He was frustrated and angry. I was upset, too. I got off the phone and wondered how we were going to feel better if we were not going to be able to agree.

Oncologist Bernie Siegel wrote in his wonderful book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, that in any difficult situation - especially one in which people hold widely divergent beliefs - one can always choose peace or conflict. (I read this book almost 20 years ago, but I always remembered it because he told the story of sharing this point with family and in response to the question, "Do you want peace or do you want conflict?" his young daughter immediately responded, "I want pizza!")

So I reminded myself that my dad was expressing concern for my son's well being. I don't have to agree with him on the vaccination issue to appreciate his concern.

Shortly after our phone conversation I told my dad that I am very grateful that he shares my desire that my son be healthy. And somehow just sharing my gratitude made the situation better.

This week I'm rejoicing in choosing peace over conflict.

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