"Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." - Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President
I was going through the mail today when I picked up a copy of a Pottery Barn magazine aimed at "tweens" and noted as I showed it to Becket that the back cover was filled with items featuring a peace logo. As I looked further, there were also polka dots, and camo, and lots of girly stuff, but it's the peace logo that has me thinking.
I almost wrote about peace for Veteran’s Day, but just couldn’t sort out all the jumble of thoughts in my mind.
Walker and I attended Grandparent’s Day at Presbyterian Day School to see our kindergarten aged grandsons in their debut performance in the big church. The bi-annual performance always has a glorious focus on patriotism and hearing a chorus of little boys sing many of the same patriotic songs I sang as a youth initially made me beam.
The performance began with an ROTC color guard from one of our local high schools, and as these fine very young men entered I suddenly teared up. The reality that many of these young men might actually volunteer to face real battle in the next few years contrasted starkly with the innocence of the beautiful younger boys singing battle songs. When they played the Army anthem, my husband stood along with a decreasing number of veterans honoring the corps. A bit of tear crept down my cheek as he stood beside me. (Okay, I’m kind of weepy lately…so sue me!)
I was born to a “war bride”, and served three years as a military wife. One of those years was spent anxiously awaiting news of my husband who was flying a little plane, not much bigger than a bicycle, over Viet Nam, being shot at in his tent at night and adjusting artillary to get the bad guys by day. I can still remember holding back my heaving stomach as I boarded a plane in San Francisco just before Walker’s deployment, cuddling my five week old baby, and knowing that I might never see her father again.
I watch the military families on the news or in airports as they adjust to holidays, feeling the absence of one parent or the other, for now many of our servicemen are women, and grieve for every one of them. I don’t care how patriotic you might be, every mother and wife and every child grieves seeing loved ones off at war.
On the other hand, I know that I never want to feel the alarm and fear that followed September 11, ever again…but I do. There are actually people who want to kill me because I’m an American who believes in a God of Peace. I’m glad there are brave men and women willing to give up their holidays, and perhaps their lives, to keep me safe.
Peace to me is not just the illusion that we experience in the U. S. all because there’s no active conflict here. Peace is something that the world deserves to enjoy.
Peace means that we all respect each other, regardless of how we look or worship. Peace means that no women live in terror of the men in their world, are not beaten, or even killed, for an indiscretion. It means that all the citizens of the world have enough to eat and productive jobs to do. It means that we don’t take things from each other, even when the temptation is great.
Peace means that those who disobey these standards spend their lives isolated so they can do no harm, but that vengeance does not lead good people to do violence even when it’s for the right reason.
I’m not sure whether Peace requires men to stop lusting after their neighbor’s wives or coveting his ox and ass...honoring our parents is nice…up to a point. I’m not going to go through all Ten Commandments, you can look them up if you like. I don’t set a really high bar…just don’t hurt others deliberately.
For now, I hope I live to see some semblance of world peace. In the meantime I give thanks for those who fight for it, celebrate those who fought to earn the degree of it we enjoy today, and hope for peace in my own heart, my family, and my community. That would be a great start. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO5CqyMPL8Q for my favorite song about peace, or just listen to your radio, the Christmas Carols are full of the most important message of all. Peace.