Peace, pax, paz, paix, pace, shalom, salaam, síocháin. There are so many ways to say it. But these days, as much as ever, our species seems to have a hard time living it, creating it, keeping it.

In so many troubled spots around the globe, the opposite of peace prevails, and the blood flows freely.

In the streets of Syria, rebels and the government grow increasingly violent, and the community of nations can't figure out a way to make the killing stop or make the repressive president, Bashar Assad, step down and allow some form of democracy to unfold.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation that we seldom read about or think about, more than 6 million people have died, despite the presence of United Nations peacekeeping forces.

In the crowded streets of Gaza, a cease-fire brought to a halt the rocket fire by Hamas against Israelis and the responding Israeli airstrikes that leveled buildings. But the sad reality is that it could all start up again at any moment.

In Egypt, a young would-be democracy struggles against the authoritarian posture of its new president, Mohammed Morsi, and the world waits, hoping for a nonviolent resolution to the crisis.

And on top of conflicts far away, right across Long Island Sound we see the dolorous aftermath of a shattering of peace, the slaughter of innocents -- exactly two weeks before Catholics celebrate the post-Christmas Feast of the Holy Innocents, described in the Gospel of Matthew.

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These conflicts, and many more, don't go away or take a holiday, just because it's the Christmas season. Nor are we, simply by writing the word in our Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa cards, able to make it happen. But we can yearn for it, work for it, pray for it, embrace it in our personal lives. We can try daily to send out tiny personal ripples of peace, in the hope that they merge with others and someday make our great blue globe a more peaceful place.