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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Peace Begins with a Smile
February 1, 2015

Riding the train into Manhattan every morning, I’m used to hearing the subway conductor make announcements about standing clear of the closing doors, being aware of suspicious packages, and taking all your belongings with you when you reach your destination. But one morning this past December, the conductor added a message of his own that was unexpected, yet welcome.

While I can’t remember his exact wording, here is the gist of his message: Please be aware of any suspicious packages and notify a police officer if you see one. Another dangerous situation our city is facing has to do with a diminishment of social skills. We forget to do simple things like smile at one another and say hello. It seems if we did more of that, there would be less hatred and violence in our world. So as we enter this season of love and joy, don’t forget to smile.

I admit that his message made me smile both because of its content and the novelty of it. But as I looked at the people around me, no one made eye contact so maybe it didn’t get through to everybody. Then again, it didn’t need to. I’m sure that message stuck with at least a few of the hundreds of people on that train so several seeds of kindness were planted. That’s a pretty good result for a morning’s work. And considering that Mother Teresa once said, “Peace begins with a smile,” this subway conductor is in good company. 

It might seem childish to give a simple thing like a smile so much importance in our complicated world. Then again, Jesus summed up God’s law in this way in Matthew 22: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s pretty simple too when you get right down to it. If more of us did the simple things right, can you imagine how much better the world would be?

Former “Christopher Closeup” guest Brooke White understands that too. White is a singer-songwriter who gained attention on “American Idol,” and has built a nice career for herself in the music industry. She’s also chock full of wisdom when it comes to family, faith, and the things that make life special.

One day on her blog, she asked, “As you are reading this right now, what are you doing with your face?” She was reflecting on the fact that people’s faces often look serious because of stresses they’re enduring.  But she also shared that the simple act of smiling can make us happier.

White wrote, “I’m not suggesting putting on a facade, or being inauthentic. What I am [suggesting] is finding it in ourselves to say,‘Despite these blues, despite the struggle, I believe happiness can be found. I can smile, and I will smile!’ Sometimes, a smile is an act of faith. We will find, however, it is also a joy magnet.  It attracts people, it opens the door to good things, new possibilities.”

Speaking of “joy magnets,” here’s what Pope Francis had to say on the topic of smiling: “We always think of Jesus when He preaches, when He heals…even during the Last Supper. . . But we aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful. Jesus was full of joy!”

So there you have a subway conductor, a singer, an almost-saint, and the pope all advocating that we smile more. Maybe that’s advice we should listen to.

 

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, STAYING POSITIVE AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org