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S.M.a.r.t Column: Peace on Earth

We are all, by now, saturated with jingles, holiday cards, “ho ho ho’s,” countless commercial advertisements, and exhortations to feel the holiday spirit. But with the world the way it is today,  this is easier said than done. From the blood-soaked plains of Ukraine to the Hamas attack and the gutting of Gaza, and from the pitiful promises of COP 28 to the relentless flooding of Florida, it’s hard to be jolly or merry. 

Closer to home, during our intractable homeless crisis with no room at the inn, Sacramento mandates 9,000 new units here but fails to provide sufficient funds for the 6,000 affordable units that are supposed to magically appear in the next eight years. Our City is hardly having a Hallmark moment with libraries shuttered, hotels struggling, and the 3rd Street Promenade suffering. Meanwhile, the sea keeps rising next to our beachside City.

But we are not the first people to arrive at a winter solstice facing real and existential threats. Humans facing death, plagues, famines, and war have always turned to their respective gods and goddesses for help. Each religion has some version of that unexamined phrase that often appears on the holiday cards that flood your real or virtual mailboxes: “Peace on Earth.” 

This is a benign, hopeful blessing that all can aspire to regardless of religion and, therefore, probably offends no one. If we look for a moment just at the Judeo-Christian traditions, these three simple words are actually a significant contraction of a biblical phrase (Luke 2:14), which in turn has a slightly different meaning depending on which bible you choose. 

For example:

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

New King James Version 1982

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to all those on whom his favor rests.”

New Catholic Bible 2019

“In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!”

Complete Jewish Bible 1998

As you can see, “Peace on Earth” comes in many different slants, genders, and nuances in just one religious text. One phrase that can have significantly different meanings. 

Because everyone’s religion is different, SMa.r.t. encourages you to take some time, during the drumbeat of the Holidays, to reflect, for a brief moment, on what Peace on Earth means to you.  How would you phrase it? In this season of renewal, place your Peace on Earth in your heart and find ways to manifest it in 2024. That vision is our holiday gift to you. 

By Mario Fonda-Bonardi for SM a.r.t Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow
Thane Roberts, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Architect, Dan Jansenson, Architect & Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission, Samuel Tolkin Architect & Planning Commissioner, Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA Michael Jolly, AIR-CRE.

For previous articles, see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writing

Clarification: 2 weeks ago, the SMa.r.t. article said there are only 12 two-bedroom units in the  Gelson’s Project, whereas there are only 12 affordable units in the Gelson’s Project

in Opinion
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