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posted: 12/25/2012 5:00 AM

Editorial: The enduring presence of peace

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Peace on earth. Good will toward men.

They had their challenges in the suburbs and around the world in 2012.

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In the land of Christ's birth, tension between the Palestinians and Israelis flared, again, into war and only narrowly avoided sucking much of the rest of the world into an even broader conflict. At home in America, our politics steamed with vitriol and division, our elections with animosity and distrust. A heart-numbing mass murder of innocents on the cusp of this sacred holiday left an indelible stain on the celebration.

Here in Illinois and the suburbs, we continued to rail at each other as our own elections festered, our budgets -- especially our state budget -- continued to stagnate and we all began showing nerves frayed by too many years of economic malaise.

Peace on earth seemed in short supply.

But the good will toward each other on which that peace can be built still flourished.

A suburban man challenged the Daily Herald and its readers to step up for the holidays on behalf of women and children fleeing threatening home lives, and the response was nearly $30,000 worth of compassion. Lawmakers, thanks to the prominence and efforts of persistent suburbanites, approved specific laws that will make schools safer and protect children from some of the traumas of sexual abuse. Throughout the year, the Daily Herald chronicled scores if not hundreds of efforts by suburban donors and volunteers, who stepped up in everything from food drives and homeless relief in their neighborhoods to helping ease poverty and improve the quality of life in Third World countries across the globe.

In fact, so many suburbanites are accomplishing so many remarkable feats that a weekly feature we launched in 2011 highlighting them is still going strong.

So, yes, it has been a tough year on many fronts. But it has been a year full of blessings, too. Plenty has occurred to renew the spirit of our enduring humanity and to strengthen the bonds of fellowship that unite us as communities, as Americans and as a world. Amid the shrieking of gift wrap this morning and the squeals of delighted children and the din of laughter, conversation, clanging plates and toasts at the holiday dinner table, it is these things we bring to mind now, these actions of hope that bind and inspire us. We will surely have our share of heartbreaks and conflicts in the year ahead as we have had in every year before, but the power of this day is that it reminds us we can overcome them, as individuals, as communities, as a nation -- and indeed we do overcome them constantly.

Whatever challenges they have to confront, peace on earth and good will toward men are ever in our grasp as long as they remain in our hearts. Whatever your background or spiritual tradition, keep them in yours, today and throughout the coming year.

Merry Christmas.

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