I have wavered on and off all morning about whether or not I was going to participate in this; I have read some of the other (many) posts on the subject of peace, and am so in awe and also so, so humbled. I am a victim of that typically American idea that what could I possibly say that makes a difference? I am not globally aware of things, by choice. I have strong political leanings, and think that George W. Bush (my personal nemesis) really set the wheels in motion for the complete downfall of us as a nation. I also think that the current war has caused so many issues, on so many levels, that at this point the best and most necessary thing we can do is to get our people the hell out. That said, I will be the first to say that what happens in other places concerns and saddens and scares me, and I know it is real; I just don't have the energy to get too worked up about it for the simple matter that what is happening here, in our country, in our states and cities and in our-MY-towns is far more important. For ME, on both a personal level and in terms of what I can do. And the greatest thing that I have seen so far about this particular blog blast is this: that there are enough of us who care, who feel passionately about one particular place or issue, to have every country, every person, covered. Isn't that amazing, that we can all be so different, so varying in our opinions and beliefs and thoughts, yet still all band together to try to make the world-our world-a better place?
Webster's has several different definitions for the word peace, so I picked the one that most applies to this post, and the way I think/feel/believe:
"4 a: a state or period of mutual concord between governments b: a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity"
And I won't post about war, but about hostilities between those who are in a state of enmity. Here where live, we have two dominant races-Hispanics and Whites. It is no surprise that racial tension is still alive and well in our country, is it? Nope. We also have several different religions vying for dominance; again, no surprise there. And they are all intertwined, of course, because they are past of how we identify ourselves as a people. But let's just take that away for a moment, and what we have are, quite simply, people.
I tend to have a Utopian view of the world, and how it should be. I mourn the loss of community on a daily basis, meaning a connection to other people regardless of differences, and I think that this is the beginning of peace-fostering a sense of community, getting back to a place where we stop being out for ourselves and start caring about what happens to our neighbor. We are all walking wounded in one way or another, and I think the key is looking beyond the facade and seeing who lies behind the dress, the color, the car, the house. Strip us all bare and we are all the same: just a bunch of people who work harder and harder to make it in this world, with fewer and fewer resources. And I am not talking money, though that applies as well. I am talking about women who mourn alone, men who struggle daily to figure out how they are suppose to be men in the accepted sense of the word, children who are hungry and alone. I am talking about the people who are told they are not allowed to love someone because of their race, their sexual orientation, their social status. I am talking about those people who live in terrible marriages, feel suicidal, wonder how they are going to muster up the energy to get out of bed for one more day. If we are not those people, then who are we?
I am as guilty as the rest, and am in no way absolving myself of personal responsibility, but I am vowing to do things differently. I am making a commitment to let go of my own envy and anger at how other people are living, and to look at whether or not they really ARE living, or simply existing. I make a commitment to care more about the neighbor boy who is the interpreter for his entire family, and allow him to come over and see my puppies and let him be, simply, just a little boy. I choose to stop those little things I do to create more problems, and instead focus on the small things I can do to make it better.
And what can I do? For me, and for my kids, and for the people around me and in my life, I can do this: I can let go of fear and anger, and just love. I have carried my own feelings of enmity toward a lot of people, and the reasons for it are even sometimes justified; however, whether they are justified or not, they are wrong. They are wrong for me, they are wrong for my family: they are wrong for a person who believes in love as much as I do. I call myself a Christian, but I am guilty of loving only those who are most like me instead of loving everyone the way I am supposed to. Loving people to me means loving that which makes them part of humanity-it doesn't mean laying down and letting them shit on you, and in the past that is where it has gotten dicey for me. I have in the past equated love with sex, security, I have relied on it to boost my ego or make me feel like I am the shit, and I have used it as a weapon to hurt people. I have used guilt and manipulation in the guise of love to damage people, to make them hurt the way I have been hurt. I have made the choice to choose anger and hatred as a way to keep going through my days-it is almost as good a motivator as fear-and today, I am choosing to work harder at forgiving.
Carl Sandburg said this:
The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.
Today I am choosing to open my hands and unclench my fists. Too much of my life has been ruled with the fists, and I can't take another beating. And neither can you, or the woman across the street, or the people in Third World Countries. We have been beaten enough, as a nation and as a world, and the only way we can recover is to open our hands.
I believe that I can make a difference. I can show my children that we do matter, as individuals and as a community. I believe that if I start here, with me, my children will feel safe to do the same thing. I believe that each one of us carries with her the ability to choose peace over strife, and I also believe that together, we form something stronger than we can imagine now.