“Grant Us Peace”
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.
Grandad as Lieutenant S.T. Reddell (1942)
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.”
Image and words used with kind permission of Alison Pearce (see credits below)
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.