In the United States, we have a gun violence problem. There is heated discussion about whether the guns or people are the problem, but the end result is usually the same: many people quickly killed or injured by someone's erratic spraying of bullets.In Israel, violence is often more personal as someone walks up to someone else to violently drive a knife into him or her. The offender is more likely to see, hear, and feel the person's pain. Such personal contact might be seen as more courageous than standing at a distance. Such violence might be personal, but it is far from courageous.Perhaps I don't have much of a voice in the matter. After all, I'm thousands of miles and an ocean away. Despite having invested much time in getting to know the land and peoples of Israel throughout history, despite having walked the streets and paths throughout Israel, I am not an everyday citizen, living my everyday life with the threat of personal violence, whether it's indiscriminate, impersonal, or very personal. (Does violence ever feel anything but personal?) I've often walked by myself, technically a foreigner but feeling at home, sitting in a park or outside a coffee shop. I felt safe.Well, perhaps not safe, but at peace.Peace is something so many people claim they want, but it can have very different meanings to people. For some, it is the lack of violence or turmoil. To others, it is a sense of calmness. It might be achieved with an agreement reached by two or more individuals or groups, or it might only be achieved over time with a proven pattern of reliability. It often has more to do with what someone else is willing to do (or not do). Peace has become political.Yet we will never truly have peace in a particular land or on earth as long as there is hatred and evil of any kind in the world. Peace isn't about the lack of something; it's about the presence of something. It can be found in the most tumultuous of situations. It is more of a choice than a situation. No matter how violently people try to drive chaos and pain into our lives, we can choose peace instead. Yes, we still feel uncertainty, hurt, and pain. Yes, we still experience loss, but none of these things cancel out peace. Peace is firmly under our feet when we choose to stand well. With it comes hope and strength to persevere.Stand firm for peace. Stand firm with peace. It is your choice.It is my prayer.