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.
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
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.
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.