On 4 November (today, on NZ time) bloggers from around the world come together with one purpose. That is to call for peace.
Usually, I would write a post along the lines of where I am at in terms of my desire for peace, both in my own life and worldwide. Unfortunately, at the moment I am struggling with my eyesight, thanks to Thyroid Eye Disease, and this makes writing and screen-time difficult and uncomfortable.
So I leave you with the words above. Who can beat the wise words of the Dalai Lama? They are certainly something to think about as we hope for peace and compassion in our world.
Thanks so much to my friend Michelle Frost, of the blog Crow’s Nest who generously put together the image in this post. She really did save me in spite of her own busy-ness preparing for today. I hope you take the time to pop over to her blog to read her post for today.
Very timely was the day of posting about peace on 4 November (see my last post Dona Nobis Pacem – 2016). Just four days before the American Elections. I am a strong advocate of peace, and of peaceful interaction amongst individuals. I simply don’t see any other acceptable way. But I tell you, beyond this desire for peace is a desire for all people to be treated kindly and with compassion. It breaks my heart that this is not happening right now.
I know that my approach to treat all people with kindness and compassion, even my enemies and those intent on harming me, is a little unusual. I know a lot of people don’t understand my thinking. But then I know that I’m not alone in this quest for humanity. It may be that you consider me weird that I have no desire to harm those who might harm me or my loved ones. I can assure you that people greatly qualified in weirdness have said previously that I am weird. It’s okay with me.
And maybe you think “what does a (white, heterosexual) kiwi from somewhere at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the United States know about anything?” Fair call, except what is happening in the US affects me too. What is happening there affects our whole planet. But perhaps more than anything the US political scene affects me because my American friends are suffering. I hate that. I hate that some of them are in the minority groups targetted by the President-elect.
Over the weekend I learnt a Facebook friend of mine had been told to kill herself by trolls commenting on a post about the Klu Klux Klan’s planned parade in North Carolina. Complete strangers (yes, more than one) telling her to kill herself! I was beyond shocked. I had earlier read it was happening, but when I learnt it affected my friend I admit I was crushed. It literally stopped me in my tracks, and I found it difficult to function for the rest of the day. Firstly, out of concern for my friend but then just pure horror that people treat each other with such disdain.
I kept asking myself, where is the compassion? And you may think that compassion has no place in what is happening in our world. I respectfully disagree, as I have suggested above.
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”
— Andrew Boyd (Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe)
I admit that I have been swaying between being crushed by what is going on in the world, and by being able to “carry it”. It’s tough for all of us. Especially those people in the US and people targetted by the President-elect. But for a moment, I need to take a slightly different angle to perhaps explain why it is so hard for some of us.
People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) usually have a great deal of trouble with feelings they experience to the extreme. That is, we feel it perhaps more deeply than people without BPD.
Whatever your understanding of this personality disorder, and whatever your experience of people you know who have it, let me say that when there are such terrible things happening around the world, even in our own backyard, we have a very hard time. This can show itself in a variety of different ways, but for me, I have this overwhelming need to express compassion and to want to see other people do that too.
For the life of me, I can not understand this hatred, contempt, and antipathy for fellow mankind. I can not understand wanting to hurt another human being (or animal, for that matter). I even can not understand this desire to strike back at someone who harms, or threatens to harm me. It’s just not me.
I am no better than any other person on this planet, but I simply do not get it. I am sure that my particular BPD (and it is slightly different for all of us) is to blame for my desperate need for compassion to spread. And while it doesn’t, I admit I am crushed by it. It is completely overwhelming.
Last night I started to go through my Twitter feed, something I admit I have put off for a few days. There I came across a list of fifty people who were being targetted by those spreading hatred. These were innocent individuals who had done nothing wrong. They had maybe expressed fear or weakness in a recent tweet and that was now causing them to be targets of this movement to encourage people to kill themselves. I put myself in their shoes, and immediately had a sense of how they must be feeling. Punished for feeling afraid. It is simply wrong.
I can’t tell anyone else how to act, I can only choose for myself how I will be. But please, think about it. Don’t spread fire with fire. Just because another chooses to spread hatred, don’t be pulled down to their level. I am convinced that if I treat each other (including our enemies) with kindness and compassion then I can contribute to what can be a peaceful world.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I will still speak up against what I see as wrong. Always. But I hopefully do it in a way that doesn’t seek to harm anyone. I’m sure this is possible.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King Jr. (A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches)
PS.Last night, after I started to draft this post, a 7.8 Richter scale earthquake struck New Zealand, north of Christchurch where I live. There has been major damage and so far, two people have died but I am happy (and amazed) to say that I slept through the whole thing. I have no idea how that happened.
Thanks to those people who have expressed their concern for me and my family today. I am a little shaky to be back in an active earthquake region. Here in Christchurch, we could definitely do without that.
Wishing those kiwis cleaning up after this, much love, a speedy end to the never-ending aftershocks and a peaceful night’s sleep tonight. Kia kaha (Be Strong).
On 4 November (today, on NZ time) bloggers from around the world come together with one purpose. That is peace. I’ve missed the past couple of years, but as peace is something I feel strongly about, this year I’m back blogging for peace.
But before you think I’m not writing about topics you usually find on this blog, please keep reading. Peace affects us all. We all have a voice, and we can all choose to use it to call for peace in all types of situations.
Peace. What is it? What do you think of when you think of peace? It’s one of those words for which we know what it means but we can’t always put words to it. I went searching for a definition that fits what I am talking about. How’s this?
Peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there’s no fighting or war, everything coexisting in perfect harmony and freedom.
I think we tend to think of fighting and war as the opposites of peace. Others suggest hate. Today I want to suggest another opposite of peace.
If we do nothing, we will not achieve peace whether it applies to world politics or peace with a neighbour or even a partner or child. If we leave it to others, or we just don’t care enough, then we will never have peace. To achieve peace, we have to do something.
When I was twelve I learnt this song at school.
I know you know it, but listen to it again anyway. Allow yourself those few minutes to hear it again.
It was the late 1970’s and to a twelve-year-old, it was a kind of cool song. I loved singing all the verses (including those added later) but I really had no understanding of what it was all about. I’m sure our teacher told us it was something to do with war, but I loved singing and would probably have sung anything. It was up there with singing ‘Hotel California‘ and the songs from the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar‘.
But now, Pete Seeger’s song leaves me feeling sad, and a little bit empty. I can stay like that and think it was sad what happened with World War 2 and the Vietnam War. But the song still applies to our world today. Rather than simply being about those two wars, the song is more about the futility of all war. How history is a cycle that we can’t break. That’s what is sad, and what remains if we do nothing.
Right now there is so much going on in our world that is about fighting and war, indifference and what I will call a lack of security. Who knows what is ahead? I read just yesterday that World War 3 is coming. I didn’t need to read it because I know. I know that unless we do something then we can have no security for the future. We have no certainty of peace.
Above, are those great words of Martin Luther King Jr. that I repeat here because they are exactly what I want to shout out to anyone who will listen, when such turmoil, hatred and uncertainty are a part of our world:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
I don’t have to accept what right now seems almost inevitable. Actually, I don’t think World War 3, as one example of the hatred and fighting has to be inevitable.
If I want peace, I need to speak up and say so. I need to do something. Indifference will only achieve fighting and war and I am completely opposed to those.
It is not just for my future that I have to do something, but for the futures of the so many people in our world who aren’t in a position to speak up. When I speak up for peace, I am speaking up for the people of Syria, for the refugees, for those who have no voice for a thousand different reasons.
It’s easy to do something. Sign a petition or join a protest rally. Give a simple bunch of flowers to the neighbour you have been arguing with. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and often the smaller offerings are more meaningful. Just do something… towards achieving peace.
There are some simple words that all the bloggers posting for peace today know:
if words are powerful…. then this matters
Words are powerful and so this does matter. Do something. Don’t be guilty of indifference. Speak up for peace.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evilis for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Bewildered was reflected in my eyes. I hadn’t seen it before, but there was something devastatingly familiar in that look. I couldn’t turn away from it.
I had been Bewildered in times past. It came as a symptom often not recognised, from too many anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics and even too much ECT (yes, it is possible to have too much). Those left me with little idea of the world around me. I didn’t know the people around me. I didn’t know the world around me. I was a little bit scared but mostly I didn’t care.
The Bewildered now reflected in my eyes was mostly not there to reflect mine in the days I needed it. I was mostly alone. It’s not that they didn’t care. I had just pushed away anyone who cared. I had moved away to places no one knew me. Those that cared were few in number. Well, that’s what Bewildered wanted me to believe.
Actually many people, admittedly at a distance, cared. Actually, many people, family and friends, wanted to care, but I couldn’t see it. Perhaps it was the psychosis, the depression or perhaps it was the drugs… they wanted me to think I was alone. Actually, Alone was the last thing I needed. Alone would kill me if I let it.
It’s what made me think when I saw Bewildered staring back at me last night. Alone is the last thing that Bewilderment needs. It’s not that it would kill them. Well, not yet and not in the way it threatened to kill me.
It is easier to stay away. Because it’s difficult. What do I say? How do I respond to Bewildered’s strange statements? How do I stay, when Bewildered seems to push me away?
I’m lucky in a way. I have my Grandfather’s example to follow. He wasn’t alive by the time I faced my Bewildered, but I know what he would have done because I’d seen him do it before. He would stare Bewildered straight in the face, and say, “I’m not leaving you”. And he didn’t.
Whatever Bewildered you find reflected in your eyes, I challenge you to stare them straight back in the face and say “I’m not leaving you.” It seems so small, but maybe if it can take out a little of the fear that Bewildered faces alone, it has to be worth it. It will probably be difficult, but still worth it.
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart.”
Peace is something that even the Bewildered deserve. No matter where that Bewildered is sourced, I believe that I can help someone Bewildered find even just a little of their own peace just by being willing to let that Bewildered be reflected back in my eyes. In that, they are not alone.
Regular readers will remember that peace is something I feel strongly about, although I admit that it has been a while since I wrote on this subject.
I feel so strongly that today I am posting twice. Unheard of! But I want to be a part of this movement (Bloggers Unite for Peace), and I encourage you to be a part of it too (details below on how you can do this).
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“We are normal, everyday hard-working people with a common hobby, blogging. We hail from far and wide. We reside in different lands, on different continents. We speak different languages, eat different foods, and are of varying ages, professions, and religious and cultural backgrounds.
We do have one thing in common…
We believe that terrorist attacks, wherever they may be perpetrated; whether in France, Tunisia, Canada, Iraq, or in Denmark, Turkey, UK, Algeria, Yemen, USA, Lebanon, or in the skies over Egypt, or in India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Bangladesh, Syria, or Mali are nothing less than attacks on humanity itself. The list is long, and probably many more besides. In every place, in every country, we, as a community of human beings, are always the innocent victims.
However, we, as members of this humanity, have found we have much more, not less, in common than those who seek to polarise our global community through indiscriminate murder of our fellow brothers and sisters.
These attacks are carried out in the name of, or in support of, a cause few of us, irrespective of religious conviction, can even start to comprehend. Murder is murder, irrespective of whatever motive or cause. As a community of bloggers, standing together for peace, we say simply this…
We will not be separated or forced to cease our friendships.
We will not change our ways – we are happy as we are.
We are all different, and proudly so, and stand together as one.
We respect each other’s right to life.
We want to live in peace”.
If you want to be a part of this movement check out the original post (below in green) on the blog, Uncle Spike’s Adventures. It gives you a number of ways in which you can be involved:
There is a Ukrainian orphanage not far from the site of the debris from Malaysian Airlines MH 17. This week the staff have had to send away 200 plus children from the orphanage to somewhere the children “could heal”. Last Thursday as the children were playing in the fields next to the orphanage, bodies started to rain down around them. Not just bodies but body parts. Can you imagine that? For the life of me I can’t imagine bodies falling from the sky around me. I am thankful that I can’t imagine it. But these children will always know.
In all the horrific news this past week, this story really struck me. Firstly the innocence of children being caught up in the wars happening on our planet. But more so because these children live in an orphanage and by that sheer fact it is reasonable to assume that they have already suffered more trauma than any person should. And now to have to be sent away from their ‘home’ so that they can heal from more trauma just seems so wrong to me. These children deserve the protection of adults, yet it is adults who are making these wars.
Another news story and children were playing hide and seek on the beachfront of Gaza when missiles launched in hatred rained down on the children, both killing some and injuring others. Again, children who should be safe.
There has been so much tragedy, affecting thousands of innocent people. And it continues. What scares me perhaps most is that this becomes common place. That we somehow become comfortable with the bloodshed. Of course those affected personally, those who have lost loved ones, they will never become comfortable with it. But what about the rest of us? Do we just become used to this? Please god, no!
If my counting is correct, there have been three planes down this past week. Three planes too many. A quick search on the net today tells me that something like 15 planes have been shot down since the 1980s. I admit I don’t remember any of them. When the tragedy of MH17 is foremost in our minds this week, it is hard to imagine that we could forget. But we will. We will move on and there will be some other tragedy in the news.
I believe that we owe it to the children to remember. To say this is wrong, and to keep saying it until it is heard. It is one thing to say that Ukraine and Gaza are so far away. “What can we do?” “It was not our playing fields where bodies rained down on innocence.” That is so true, but it could easily have been our children, our people.
I do not believe that war is the answer in any of these situations. Bloodshed of innocent people is just wrong. And if we don’t start saying it more, then no one is going to hear.
I feel heartbroken by what is happening in our world. I can’t bear to watch news reports. Like reports of lines of hearses in The Netherlands yesterday waiting to take bodies away for identification. Recently I haven’t been able to cry, even though there have been plenty of things to cry about. Simply there have been no tears. But now I cry.
It would be easier to not watch the footage. It would be easier to say “it’s too hard to watch” but I think I owe it to the victims to watch. More so, I think I owe it to the victims to speak out and say that this is wrong. There has to be another way. I believe that way is peace. And if we, the relatively unaffected, don’t say so then who will?
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
Today, in Australia and New Zealand, we commemorate Anzac Day. It is a national day of remembrance in both countries that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders (including animals) “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations”. It particularly honours those Army soldiers who served at Galliopli in 1915.
There are many commemoration services held around both countries and at Galliopli, but I have to admit that it’s been a while since I have been to one. I simply don’t ‘do‘ crowds. That doesn’t stop me from remembering though. While I am an advocate of peace, I have great admiration and respect for those who have served in the past, and those who still serve. I just hope and pray that one day such service will no longer be necessary and we will find a way of living in this world in harmony.
My chief memory relating to Anzac Day lies with my paternal Grandfather. Let me tell you about his war service. Don’t worry. It won’t take long.
My grandfather joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Intelligence Division as a Lieutenant to fight in World War Two. He was stationed at home in New Zealand but was required to go overseas regularly. He was injured in an accident (in New Zealand) and those injuries left him unwell for the rest of his life.
That’s it. We don’t know anything else. In the approximately five years my grandfather served, and in the years after, he was never allowed to tell anyone of what he did, and where he went. Granddad died about 25 years later and took his secrets with him.
It strikes me this year as I remember him, and others who served, that the trauma they witnessed must have been immense. Now days we are becoming more aware of the affects of the trauma soldiers face. We recognise the existence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the havoc that can play on their lives in the years following their service. I know we still have a distance to go in understanding the need for help and treatment but awareness in itself has to be good.
But today, I am struck by the lack of this knowledge and understanding back in the time my grandfather served, and before in previous wars. I suspect war was very different then, to what it is today, but no less traumatic. Not just for those who served either.
My father was a child at the time his father was away at war. Neither he, not my grandmother were allowed to know anything. Not then, not ever. The hardship and fear they must have carried with them must have been huge. Remember too, this was a time of no emails, no Skype, simply no communication but the odd letter.
My grandfather, and many others with him, lived both then and into the future with no assistance in dealing with what they had seen, done and heard. The affect on their lives must be beyond our modern comprehension.
Granddad died, from his war injuries when I was three. I have just one memory of him playing in this front garden with me.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Today I am participating, for the second time, in Blog4Peace… because peace is something that I strongly believe is desperately needed in our world. Bloggers from over 200 countries are participating today, and that just says to me how important our quest for peace is.
Sometimes I’m not too good at sticking to ‘the rules’, especially with blogging challenges and the like. Hopefully Mimi will forgive my errant ways. Usually bloggers create a template of their statement of peace, and post it on their site on 4 November. I have borrowed a template (above) for this post, but came to the conclusion that firstly, I’m a better writer than an artist, and secondly, I had something to say that I couldn’t contain in a template. As well as that my brain isn’t quite functioning straight right now and to achieve both tasks is simply beyond me.
I was watching a movie the other day. A favourite from years ago, of which I have just managed to get my hands on a copy. It is The Mission (1986) starring Jeremy Irons and Robert de Niro.
The brief summary of what this is about is that some Jesuit priests are living and working with locals above the Iguazu Falls in the South American jungle in the 1750s. There is some outstanding music in this movie, probably one of the reasons I love it, but there are difficult moments too when Portuguese rulers take back the land, destroy the mission built with the Jesuits ,and try to enslave the locals. The priest, played by Jeremy Irons, believes that God is love, and violence is a direct crime against that love. He argues that they should trust God rather than fight back. He chooses to stay with the villagers in peace while other Jesuits decide to renounce their vows and fight with many of the male villagers.
It’s hard to fit a movie into a paragraph, but the reason I raise it is the two choices that are made, effectively between peace and war. I sat watching the movie, and there were villagers, priests and soldiers representing the Portuguese rulers dying everywhere. Most of it was played out beside the river and I was struck how easily dead bodies were cast aside, out-of-the-way, so that the fight could continue. It seemed to me those bodies meant nothing, and I was struck with a knowing that I could never kill another being (human or animal), in such a situation because I simply couldn’t allow myself to let them mean so little. It was difficult enough to stand and watch my cat being euthanised last year. I knew it was taking away her pain, but it was so difficult to let a life be taken.
That said, that’s an easy statement for me to make. I’m not back there in the 1750s with the threat of my village being destroyed, and I’m not even in a position where I have to consider that I might be sent to war here in the 21st century. I live in a country (New Zealand) where military involvement is not mandatory. It was for young men (including my grandfather) in the first and second world wars, but as a woman, that was never something I would have had to face doing. Yes, it’s easy for me to say. My choice not to bear arms would not have any affect on my family and/or loved ones. Saying no is definitely an option for me. But I get that for so many, it’s not that easy.
Peace is one of those things that I think we all have our own views of what it is about. For me it is about respecting the value of each human being to a point where that person deserves to be saved. This post isn’t directly about war, although obviously it is not ignored because without peace we often have war. My personal belief is that war is never necessary. There is always another way of solving a dispute, and every effort should be taken to preserve life. Maybe it’s more difficult, maybe it takes longer. Jeremy Irons, in his role, chose to take what he viewed as God’s way. That’s not why I like it but rather what I do I like is the respect a peaceful solution offers to each individual.
We are all worth saving. None of us deserve to be left dead or injured on the side of the road, or permanently traumatised by the horror that soldiers, and the indigenous and local people have witnessed in the name of war. My belief is that peace values each of us. It says we are all too important to be cast aside as I saw in the movie.
That’s why I have taken time out from my usual blogging to take part in today’s Blog4Peace. All of the bloggers taking part in this event believe that if words are powerful….this matters. The wider we spread this message, each in our own way, the more people will see that the right thing to do is to lay down arms and live at peace.
What does all this have to do with blogging for mental health? If we had peace world over then we could all let it be. I am convinced that our overall mental health would be significantly better.
I had firmly in my head, what I was going to write about today. But you know how things happen. We see things, we read things, and suddenly there is a whole new post bursting out of us? That’s me today.
Earlier this morning I came across a picture on a Facebook profile which I found offensive and disturbing (not the image above). I know I’m prone to be disturbed by such images depicting violence, and so usually I have to take a step back and ask myself ‘would others be offended by this picture?’ I thought they would have, so reported the picture to Facebook, hoping that they would also find it offensive and remove it.
I’m not posting the picture here because of how much it disturbs me, and I don’t want others to be disturbed by content on my blog. But it was an image of a woman holding a hand gun to a man’s head.
This is what Facebook reported back to me:
Photo not removed
Thank you for your report. We carefully reviewed the photo you reported, but found it doesn’t violate our community standard ongraphic violenceso we didn’t remove it.
Someone has a gun pointed at another person’s head, and that’s doesn’t violate community standards? Excuse me, but I find that refusal almost more disturbing than the image I objected to.
Interestingly when I followed their hyperlink to graphic violence, I found a lot of words but no specific definition of graphic violence. What they did do was define violence and threats as:
“Safety is Facebook’s top priority. We remove content and may escalate to law enforcement when we perceive a genuine risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety. You may not credibly threaten others, or organize acts of real-world violence. Organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to maintain a presence on our site. We also prohibit promoting, planning or celebrating any of your actions if they have, or could, result in financial harm to others, including theft and vandalism.” (1.)
But that’s talking about what people say on Facebook, rather than what they depict in their images. What happened to the phrase we all know ‘actions speak louder than words’? The same ‘images speak louder than words’ could apply, but my guess is that because it wasn’t the owner of the Facebook profile portrayed holding a gun to someone else’s head then everything is fine. That’s not fine too me at all.
I accept that the gun laws in my country are very different from in other parts of the world. It is one thing that makes me glad to be a kiwi. But look what the world was faced with just a few weeks ago when 28 adults and children were tragically killed by gunfire. The idealist in me would like to think that social media would have reacted quickly and prohibited this type of violent image to be shown.
Personally I can cope with seeing the image, although I find it very disturbing and unnecessary. I can manage my reactions so that I don’t think that the behaviour depicted in the image is acceptable behaviour.
But my 13-year-old nephew can see this image too, from his Facebook profile. I think he is a pretty wise kid, but he is a kid and I don’t think it’s acceptable that he is confronted by this sort of stuff simply in keeping up with his friends.
I’m wondering what would make it unacceptable to Facebook? All I can think of (and I apologise for the graphic impression) is that is the image included a bullet travelling into the victims head.
Facebook say above that “Safety is Facebook’s top priority“. What a joke. What safety do they actually care about, other than their own? If impressionable minds see the type of image I reported today, they assume that such behaviour is normal and acceptable.
I will never accept that one person holding a gun to another’s head is either normal and acceptable. And God help us if our society gets to the point where it is.
Right now there are people talking about wanting to keep guns away from people with mental illness, but it is not just those people who need to be kept away from guns. It’s the people who think that the use of guns against others is okay.
And in that group, I’d be inclined to put Facebook. Shame on them, they have an opportunity to take a stand against gun violence yet they aren’t interested.
After-thought: There were some other issues about this Facebook profile which should have been of concern to Facebook too. Don’t get me started…
And apologies to any American’s personally offended by my use of this quote today. I simply use it, not to offend, but to make a point:
“You can’t talk about fucking in America, people say you’re dirty. But if you talk about killing somebody, that’s cool.”
Trying to achieve peace within myself has been a life-long battle, not helped by long-lasting mental health issues. Achieving peace is a battle I continue to work on daily. The Dalai Lama says that peace can’t be achieved in this world until I find peace within myself. I think he’s right, purely for the reason that I am part of this world. I am affected by what happens in this world. Sounds simplistic, doesn’t it?
I live in a small country, almost on the edge of the world, called New Zealand. Our population is only 4.5 million. I know that’s pretty small, but it needs to be kept in perspective. Our statistics might not sound much, until you think about the proportion of people in our population affected by the country’s decision to be a part of war. We all with be familiar with the six degrees of separation. In New Zealand, that shrinks down to around two, maybe three degrees of separation.
In the 11 year war in Afghanistan, 11 New Zealand soldiers (including one female) have been killed in combat. It doesn’t seem like much does it? But what if one of those 11 soldiers was your flesh and blood? Then their death becomes personal, and the war has a deep impact on your life.
On top of those 11 kiwi soldiers, there have been many more soldiers from around the world who have died, and then there are thousands of civilians who have also died. If they were your family, this is very personal. If you are/were a soldier there, then this is personal.
Six weeks ago New Zealand sent its last group of soldiers to Afghanistan. This is the last troops that will be deployed from here, as New Zealand is pulling out its troops in April 2013. I watched on the television channels here as those troops said their good-byes to their families at the airport. It was gut-wrenching stuff, not only to see parents saying goodbye to young children and husbands to wives, and vice-a-versa, but for one reason that must have been at the heart of most kiwis watching that day.
Just a few weeks earlier a total of five kiwi soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, in two separate incidents. Those five were from the same battalion as this fresh group were from, at Burnham Military Camp.
How could this new group of soldiers say good-bye to their friends and family, and have any sense of peace of mind, without this in their heads. And how could families say good-bye without wondering whether this would be their final good-bye? Would they come back in a box, like their friends and comrades had? I dearly hope not.
Peace of mind? I don’t think so. All in the aid of fighting a war.
Saying good-bye to troops headed for war is something my father knew only too well as a child. There was very little peace of mind for him as a six-year-old, and my grandmother, when my grandfather would be sent off to World War Two. Some 92,000 kiwi troops went to this war, the maths is mind-boggling to consider just how many kiwis were left at home, with little peace of mind.
You can read more about my feelings about my grandfather’s involvement in Peace Not War (Passion Profile Challenge #1). He was in the Royal New Zealand Navy Intelligence division. He ‘officially’ served his time in the War in the National Home Office in Wellington. ‘Officially’ he never left the country.
Unofficially though, and the reality for my father and grandmother is that, he ‘would go away’ for weeks at time. They wouldn’t know where, or for how long. It just happened that the ‘trip away’ would coincide with a naval ship or submarine leaving Wellington harbour around that day. They could see it leave the harbour from their temporary home in Kelburn.
To this day no one in the family knows where Grandad went, or for how long. He died in 1969 after a long illness related to his war injuries, but he was never allowed to tell anyone the details of his trips away. From the rumours, I think I’m glad about that because there would have been no peace of mind for anyone had they known where we suspect he was, or what he was doing.
Peace matters to me on a personal front because of the experience of my father and my grandparents. But it matters to me on a global basis for much more than this. I don’t believe that we were put on this planet to fight, kill and injure each other, let alone innocent by-standers.
“We are connected to the sky and connected to the earth. Together we are the conductors of nature. Let our song of connection be forever beautiful.”
We are connected to the sky and the earth, but we are also connected to each other. Regardless of our history, race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, sexuality or even simply our thoughts… we are brothers and sisters, as fellow human beings. However we choose to believe that we appeared here on this planet, and regardless of what higher power we choose to believe or not believe in, we are all one species. So why would we choose to kill each other? Why would we choose to destroy another’s family?
I believe that we choose war over peace because it is easier. Certainly not easier for those caught up in it, or watching loved ones in it, but it’s an almost simple way to win an argument. Just kill the opponent, or at least anyone who matters to that opponent. End of argument. Apparently.
If we could simply lay down our arms, and talk.
If I disagree with my neighbour, we stand in the drive-way and talk. It works because we are prepared to listen and understand each other’s perspective. It works, and while we have differences, we can still be friends, respecting each other’s individuality.
It’s interesting that in the past two years, living in Christchurch, we have all been through multiple devastating and deadly earthquakes. As neighbours, we all put aside our differences, and helped each other. The increased bond between neighbours is one good thing that came from the devastation. I suspect something similar is happening today in the areas badly affected by hurricane Sandy.
Peace between neighbours reigned for us in Christchurch, and was a very good thing. More important than arguments was making sure each other had the basic provisions of food, water and shelter. Maybe it’s a simple way of looking at it, but I believe that simple is often best. Talking and listening is often best. It by far beats the need to kill and destroy.
That’s why I have taken part in today’s BlogBlast4Peace. All of the bloggers taking part in this event believe that if words are powerful….this matters. The wider we spread this message, each in our own way, the more people will agree that the right thing to do is to lay down arms and live at peace.
I encourage you to read some of the hundreds of other blog posts on this subject today. See the official site at BlogBlast4Peace for more details.
Make a choice, and take a stand for peace, as I have done, and speak out.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
– Bishop Desmond Tutu Nobel Prize for Peace 1984
“Never doubt that a handful of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
Some Very Important Credits
My Peace Globes (used here and on my Facebook page) were kindly created for me by my friend, Michelle Frost. Check out Michelle’s blog to see what she is saying about peace today at Crows Feet.
Artwork and Prose from Alison Pearce are both used with her permission. Alison produces some excellent work, which can be seen at Art That Speaks by Alison Pearce. Her site is well worth a visit. Thank you for your co-operation Alison.