I heard on the news that there was a last minute editing issue with the climate accord ratified in Paris. The chief negotiator for the US caught an error. The word “shall” was used when apparently the word agreed to was “should.”
Shall? Should? What’s the difference? We shall do this. We should do this. It can lead to the same result. But should implies intention. It indicates a hoped for outcome; the best option. But because we should do something does not mean that we will do it. I mean, I should lose weight. I should clean my bathroom more often. I should give more money to the church. I should do more to help the poor. I should do more for the environment. I’m sure you have your should’s, too. We may or may not do these things. And who knows when we may do them.
But shall is a commitment. Shall means that you will do something. Shall moves us from the realm of “it’s a good idea” to “I will do it.” I shall pick you up at 5:00 means I’ll be there to get you. I shall vote for you means you will do it, not you’re thinking about it.
When it comes to Wonder-Full peace, we want to remember that real peace takes real actions. For peace to be manifested, we have to make commitments and fulfill them. Taking actions builds trust which is needed for peace. Having intentions for peace is a good start. Should is definitely heading in the right direction. But peace also requires shall. It takes making commitments and fulfilling them.
Think about a time that you expected someone to do something and it didn’t happen. How did that affect the relationship?
Prayer: The God of our religious tradition is a faithful God; a God that can be trusted. May we carry out our commitments for peace so that we, too, can be trusted and so help to make the world a more peace-filled place for all. Amen.