At the start of this month I spent time thinking about, and posting about, the men and women who serve in the military, specifically because I long fervently for peace. While I pray for wars to cease, I also pray for every brave individual who faces those horrors. Until those of us who pray for and work towards peace can spread a wide enough blanket of love over the world to calm the angry hearts of those who’ve been raised amidst hatred, I will continue to give thanks for those who fight for our safety and the freedoms we enjoy.
I deeply feel for the military mother watching her son or daughter go overseas to war, yet my heart also goes out to the civilian mother overseas trying to raise her family in a war-torn environment, a woman who might be a lot like me, who may feel like I do, wishing she could make sense of it all, wishing everyone could just get along and stop fighting.
In my imagination, I see two groups of teens. One group approaches and accosts the other, and the other group might retaliate or may choose passivity. Unfortunately history has shown that passivity usually only works in carefully mediated conflicts, perhaps from a gifted speaker with a wise heart, who finds the right words to calm the angers all around. But too often the reaction is to fight back. And this generates escalation. What we need is to get to the source of why the first group of teens (or nations) would feel the need to approach and accost the other group. We need to grow peace from the ground up. From birth.
Of course now this opens another huge layer to be addressed, as every pregnant woman needs to be well nourished both physically and spiritually. She needs to eliminate stress and of course any substances that harm the baby. I am so passionate about forming healthy babies during those important nine months that I myself not only eliminated alcohol, cigarettes and coffee but I felt a passionate pull to pray every day. To meditate. To embody calmness. To have faith. To help my baby feel it was welcome and coming into a good world. We need to reach out with love, time, and donation dollars to help impoverished or solitary pregnant women to feel cared for and wanted.
I raised my children to have respect for people from other countries. These are the statements I would say to them from about the age of 18 months and reminded them for years: “They can speak at least one other language. I cannot do that, can you? I think that is wonderful. Every person with an accent deserves our admiration for they have learned, or are learning, one of the most difficult languages to learn: English”. I did the same thing with them about those who dress differently, people who look different from us, people who listen to a different type of music or eat a different kind of food than we’re used to.
In my career as an Administrator, for many years I was employed with hard working non-profit groups offering support to people with mental and physical disabilities, assisting these marginalized individuals to enjoy a more meaningful life through interests, volunteering or work. I brought my young sons to work with me, holiday parties and such, because I wanted them to be around this ‘different’ group of people.
What is unknown to us may feel uncomfortable or even frightening at first. But as we are exposed to ‘differentness’, we relax. We feel at ease. We become comfortable with ‘otherness’ because we quickly learn that we’re not so different, really. Someone may speak or interact differently than we do but we can have a conversation with them nonetheless, if we reach out and try.
My sons are adults now and, as I do, have friends of all kinds. Where they’re from, colour of skin, sexual orientation, body shape, religion, or financial situation do not matter. Indeed these points are a ‘non-issue’ as they should be among people who are friends. These steps are the foundation of peace.