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.
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.
As I write today, it is actually September 12 in my part of the world, but I want to recognise that in the United States and around the world, 9/11 is being remembered again today. As I wrote yesterday, 9/11 also marks my birthday, and while this year I have finally been able to celebrate that fact again, I admit that celebrating anything on this day just doesn’t seem quite right anymore.
I find myself almost being apologetic when asked when my birthday is, and I know that I am not the only one who feels this way about having a birthday on such a day. The other thing I note is that until 2001 my birthday was always 11/9 because that is the way we write the date in my part of the world. Now it is so much easier to say my birthday is 9/11 and still know that people won’t think my birthday is November.
But one day on is actually what I remember. It wasn’t September 11 that the world seemed to fall apart in New Zealand, but rather it was waking up on September 12 that I heard that the planes had flown into the World Trade Center towers, (as well as the horror in Washington DC and Pennsylvania), and it was for the rest of that day that we followed the terrible news.
I was in hospital at the time and my favourite nurse woke me saying that the world was ending (that’s not what you need when an inpatient in a psych hospital). I had no idea what she was talking about but in my very unwell state assumed I must have done something really bad. In the next weeks I battled between reality and some sort of depressive delusional fantasy.
I was far from well and it wasn’t long before doctors decided that I was a candidate for more Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT). Lucky me. I was well enough to sign on the dotted line but I knew little else except for concluding by then that 9/11 was all my fault.
The road to recovery has been long but one of the things that has become more important to me is the need for us to work towards peace. There is too much hate, too much bloodshed and too much war in my mind. It’s not something that I feel at all comfortable about, and the need for us to love our brothers and sisters seems increasingly urgent in my mind. Why can’t we stand side by side?
In line with my thoughts on the need for peace, I have joined Blog Blast 4 Peace, a movement of bloggers blogging for peace. This is a group that has been running for six years now and on November 4, there will be a commitment from involved bloggers to write that day for peace. The images included on this post come from that source.
Peace means a lot of different things to me, and it is my hope to explore what it is that I wish for. I have written before about my desire to see Peace Not War, as well as that I admit to being An Idealist. I don’t pretend to think that everyone will agree with what I might think, but isn’t it time we were talking about what we mean by peace and how we can achieve it?
No one wants another 9/11 and while the world has changed much in 11 years, there so much more that is possible so that we can learn to live alongside one another.
“One hand holding on to another. One human telling another human that they aren’t alone. One person sharing their strength and understanding with another person.”
I like this a lot, and while Ruby wrote it in connection to suicide prevention, I see it as something that peace can also achieve, so hopefully Ruby won’t mind that I borrowed it. It applies so well to peace, whether it across the world, in our local neighbourhood, or simply peace of mind for each of us.
Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace).
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” ― Dalai Lama XIV