Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ending Wars

The white stones blanketed the cemetery for as far as the eye could see, as far as my child’s eye could see. I didn’t know the significance of this place where I stood. In my life time the stark reality would find me, a lifetime during which more stones would be added.

What mother throughout history has not wondered at the raising of arms, father against son, neighbor against neighbor, country against country? Mothers have sent their sons to war for as long as the world has revolved. “Where have all the young men gone long time passing”. The words still resonate today, those words from the 60’s. War, hate, violence.

When my son became a teenager, we were again looking at a restless world. Maybe I should say “still” looking at a restless world. I remembered the draft well from seeing my fiancé off to war in Viet Nam. I was terrified at the thought of my son going to war.

But this is not about the wars we fight. It isn’t about the graves in Arlington. This blog is about peace.

My granddaughters are really great at irritating one another. Usually the older child picks on the smaller child. To watch Gabby take the comments and digs, you would think she is tough, but that’s not true. She is hurt every time it happens. I have seen her sit off to herself after such event making excuses for her isolation: “I just want to sit here”, “I’m waiting for Daddy”, “I’m just tired”, etc. I wrap my arms around her silently holding her for a few moments.

“It hurts doesn’t it?” I ask.

“Uh huh,” she solemnly replies.

“It’s just the way sisters get along. Your sister really loves you.”

I see the irony of my comment reflected in her eyes. “She does? She doesn’t act like it.”

“Sweetheart, when you grow up, you and your sister will be best friends. Your sister will always be there for you and love you your entire life. I know. My sister picked on me, and she was seven years older than me. But, Honey, we have become best friends. I love her with all my heart.”

We continued to sit there. Her sister finally showed up. Sydney is good at listening in on conversations.

“What are you doing?” she asks as if nothing happened.

“We’re waiting for Daddy,” I replied. “I was just telling your sister….,” I continued with my shortened version of sisterly love.

I have noticed a few changes since then. The older sister pays a bit more attention to the younger. The younger glows at the recognition. We work on communication and encouragement. The younger child who once begged not to go to her sister’s softball games now cheers her on.

Maybe we could end wars if we worked a little harder at promoting peace. Peace that begins at home. Peace that begins with our children. Maybe we could think less of our needs and think more of those of the child. Maybe we could listen better with our eyes as well as our ears. Maybe we can teach our children to be diplomatic and compassionate, to accept differences with an open mind and to look for positive instead of negative.

I don’t want to see children standing before stark stones of death. I don’t want to see mother’s send their children to war. Mama Cass sang it best:

There's a New World Coming
And it's just around the bend
There's a new world coming
This one's coming to an end

There's a new voice calling
You can hear it if you try
And it's growing stronger
With each day that passes by

There's a brand new morning
Rising clear and sweet and free
There's a new day dawning
That belongs to you and me

Yes a new world's coming
The one we've had visions of
Coming in peace, coming in joy, coming in love.

We are the parents and grandparents who can give this to our children, who can reach out to other people setting an example, who can volunteer for projects with our children, who can teach daily ways of cooperation and tolerance. We can do it, if we try.

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