“Even if you cannot change all the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around. Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t respect, appreciate, and value you. Spend your life with people who make you smile, laugh, and feel loved.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
I was looking back through my blog today and ran across this quote. It stopped me in my tracks the first time and it did again today. The world is rife with War. Every day some conflict seems to break out somewhere in the world, ending with more innocent people killed or maimed, their lives and homes destroyed.
Are we thinking about War wrong? Might makes right. The winner writes the history. The strongest survives.
But, as Calvin wisely asked his Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world’s problems?
How indeed? This is one of those questions parents dread. How do you explain war to a child whose innocence you wish to protect? Should we even explain this nasty business to a child or is this one of those times for ‘you’ll understand when you get older?’
Okay, so no, we shouldn’t terrorize children with the concept and reality of war. But if we don’t start teaching them better ways to solve the world’s problems, nothing is going to change.
Man is a violent species. We’re not so different from lions or wolves or alligators. We protect our species from any perceived threat, whether real or not. Every species protests its own, even rabbits. Mice. Maybe amoebas for all I know.
The reality, however, is that we no longer consider ourselves one species. Humans have gone off the scale. Male lions fight for dominion over the pride, but they don’t go killing every other male lion on the plain just because they are male.
Why do we go that extra mile to kill everything which gets in our way, doesn’t think our way, or lives, believes or looks differently. Why have we separated our species into the right and the wrong, the weak or the strong, the human or the non-human.
We’re at war with everything. Ourselves. Our neighbors. The others just across the boundary line. Pollution. Melting Icebergs. Who controls the wealth. Who goes hungry or homeless or without medical care.
How are soldiers killing each other solving these problems?
Truth is, they’re not. We’re not. We’re not solving the problems which matter. We are just creating more division, more dividing lines, more conflict.
War never ends war. Violence only begets more violence.
Turn that around and peace only begets peace. Living in harmony makes us one again; makes us whole.
Don’t get me wrong. I honor and respect those men and women who willing sacrifice their lives and limbs and days to protect baseball, mom and apple pie, but don’t be fooled. We are no different from the rest of the world. We’ve separated our selves into the American species and might does make right.
How are those soldiers dying and suffering for us solving the world’s problems?
We try, of course we do, but one narrow opening for peace doesn’t defeat war.
War will only be defeated when we, all of us in every town and house and country, rich or poor, homeless or living in a huge mansion, stand together and say ‘Enough.’ When collectively we say nobody should have to fight or die because of our differences.
When we declare we will no longer fight. We will honor our species – every single member of our species – with the basic needs of life. Food. Water. Shelter.
How are soldiers killing each other solving the problems of food, water and shelter?
I am an American and I love my country. I don’t know anything about being Chinese or Russian or French. But you are all my species. These difference don’t make us different. They make us human.
So, next time your neighbor pisses you off, somebody cuts you off in traffic or breaks in front of you in line, ask yourself, “How do soldiers killing each other solve the world’s problems?”
I can think of no better answer than the piece below, written in memory of my mother.
Everything I learned about being a mother I learned from my mother. Simple, right? Of course I learned from her. But it’s not so simple as that. I was the baby of the family, the introvert, the dreamer. The nonconformist. I lived inside my head, inside the stories I was always telling myself, understanding those stories and their characters better than I could ever understand the real world around me. My mother was just the opposite; she lived in the real world and had no use for the daydreams and fantasies of her youngest child.
I always thought this was the reason we so often clashed. Now, however, I think we weren’t so different after all. She had to live in a reality that I had not yet known. She had a husband and kids and a house to run. Groceries to buy, food to cook and endless cleaning of house and laundry. When I grew up and had these same things come to me, I had to learn how to live outside my own reality. There isn’t a choice when you have children.
I have come to understand that being a mother comes from the heart and from the soul. It is the greatest surrender any woman can make to put aside her life for 18 + years to focus on her children. Not all mothers make this sacrifice, but my mother did. There are no absolutes in a mother’s world, no true rights or wrongs. Everything we do as mothers is in the Now, the eternal present. There is no past or future in mothering. Every word we choose leaves it’s input on our child forever. As a mother myself, I can now see the challenges and sacrifices that she made from both sides. She did the best she could in the Now. When she knew better, she did better. What better mantra for any mother?
Somewhere in the turmoil of our relationship, the truth of being a mother changed. Maybe she leaned that you can’t fix your children. Maybe she finally saw me for who I was and not who she wanted me to be. Or maybe she just learned how to stop being a mother and start being a friend. Time and again, she stood behind me without questions, no longer trying to fix my life, but simply being there. She learned that I didn’t need somebody to fix my problems (though I may have wanted that), but instead I needed somebody to hear me. I needed to know that I had value as me and not just as the person others wanted me to be. I needed somebody who would never leave.
But there is no permanency in motherhood. Eventually mothers go away from their children, leaving behind an empty space inside that will never again be filled in the same way. Sometimes this leaving is first mental, just as you have gone away into a world of imagination where I cannot enter, our roles switched in what seems a tragic irony of fate. Eventually, however, it will be forever. This, too, is motherhood. A letting go, a final freedom, the ability of a child to physically let go of their mother when the time is right and the knowledge that, in truth, motherhood never ends. It is an endlessness that has carried women from the first moment of the world, uniting us all back to the first mother, that very first instant when a woman looked upon her face of her newborn and fell in love.
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