This Saturday morning I was up at 4:30 am thinking about WAR.
It’s because of something I saw on the news the night before.
Now, those who know me, know that I don’t watch the news. Or read the news. Or listen to the news. I decided several years ago that it was affecting my happiness too much with all the devastating events that were happening in the world and I pretty much just stopped trying to understand or care what’s going on globally, nationally, even locally.
It’s a perfectly logical and healthy reaction: if you can’t understand or change something that is hurting you, IGNORE it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
And it’s worked quite well for me for the last ten or so years. Because despite the fact that I have a four year degree in Political Science, where I took a WHOLE BUNCH OF CLASSES on world happenings, past and present, I let all of that knowledge slide out of my brain like a slow but steady leak until there was zero, zilch, zippo left…because I chose to not continuously apply what I learned in the here and now. It’s like not practicing a second language or a musical instrument. Use it or lose it. I opted to lose it. And I have been mostly okay with that.
I wanted to be a writer not a politician.
But last night my husband made me watch ‘THE NEWS’. He said it was about time I paid attention to some shit that was a little deeper and more important than watching a Facebook post of a cat eating a piece of corn on the cob for a longer period of time than would deem interesting for anyone with any kind of an IQ greater than that of a squirrel. Which is what I was doing when he switched the television to ‘THE NEWS’.
My head jerked up away from my phone. “NOOOOOOO!” I said. “Turn it to something else! It burns my ears and eyes!”
Murder, Murder, Rape, Wall Street Corruption, Murder, Child Molestation, Bank Robbery, Rape, Embezzlement, Murder, Unemployment, Murder, Murder, Murder, Poverty, Airplane Crashes, Murder, Murder Murder, Suicides, Bombings, Suicide Bombings, WAR WAR WAR. Trump, Hillary, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
Despite him trying to force me to watch, I literally was able to just block it all out like the stubborn brat that I am and make all the reporters voices sound like the adults from Charlie Brown cartoons. “WA, WA, WA WA WA WA , WAWA.”
But then something actually sparked my attention, completely against my will. There was this beautiful young woman, a local here in Spokane, Washington, named Tiffany Smiley, who spoke about the idea of spending fifteen minutes during this memorial day weekend thinking or doing something to honor our veterans, past and present. Her husband had been blinded in combat and two of their friends killed. She just wanted them and others to be remembered and honored for serving their country. My eyes and heart opened for the first time in a long while, when it came to thinking about anything beyond my immediate H World and I thought to myself “I could do that. I could pause for a simple fifteen minutes and really think about what Memorial Day is about.”
Here is the link to the newscast:
I went to bed with this idea of ‘fifteen minutes’ in my heart and I woke up with it in my head. My morning journaling, which is normally filled with narcissistic vomit just flowed with thoughts about my country, its veterans, the subject of honor and how to honor, the different kinds of war, the reasons for war, all the people globally who have died as a result of war since the beginning of man’s existence. But then those thoughts started to HURT my heart, God they HURT. And I found myself wondering ‘has there ever been peace?’ and I COULD NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION and my brain pretty much just spiraled out of control and exploded with the realization that my own HEART is a PERPETUAL WAR ZONE and that I AM AS MUCH TO BLAME for war as anyone in this world with my ignorance and my self centered attitude and the fact that I can pretty much pick a fight with a gnat. And God knows lesser things than fights with gnats have started wars.
So, immediately after my journaling, and six cups of coffee and four hours of manic internet research on the history of the the world, all the while thinking “MY GOD how did I MISS all of this in college? Was I drunk the whole time??” I announced to my husband: “I’m going to write a blog post about WAR and why it’s all my fault.”
I wish you could have seen the look on his face. He looked absolutely and completely appalled and I know it took everything in him to very calmly say (in a tone one would use to speak to a psychiatric patient who’s been off her meds for too long) “Well, you might want to be careful with that. It’s a very sensitive subject and considering it’s Memorial Day Weekend, you’re possibly going to piss some people off.”
What I heard him say was: “You are a fucking idiot who has not watched the news in over ten years so you don’t know shit about anything and have no right to write about war you moron wife of mine. I have deep, deep regrets that I distracted you from the corn on the cob cat. I’m not sure what I was thinking there.”
And thems is fighting words even if they aren’t what the real words were. So I indignantly gathered up all of my college textbooks from the basement including my favorite one that I never read called “Europe Since Napoleon” and stacked those books up on my desk like a BOSS along with “The Essential Rumi” (for balance) and proceeded, while writing this post, to get in a fight with my husband. He just didn’t know it until I told him a couple hours later. Which is exactly what my point is. Sort of.
Think on this idea with me:
According to Conway W. Henderson, a writer about international law and relations, “one source claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives, leaving only three hundred years of peace.”
Here is a website that lists chronologically the most renowned wars if you want to get upset, I mean educated, with me:
This doesn’t include all the undocumented battles that occur everyday on a local, individual and molecular level. Like my little battle with my husband that he didn’t know about until I told him. But that’s documented now: 14,501.
And obviously those three hundred years of “peace” did not happen consecutively because there would be a book about it somewhere detailing 300 years of happy sighs and joyful singing and a whole bunch of ‘who begat who’ lists. And the reality is that while begetting is quite enjoyable (wink wink) it would be a pretty boring read without any smoting in there somewhere, which is WHY (in my fruitlessly educated opinion) there have not been very long periods of peace. Someone is always smoting someone for begetting someone they shouldn’t have. It’s a vicious cycle of begetting and smoting.
Plus! Not only can we not agree on how to achieve world peace (I just read a summary of nine different peace theories that could possibly work for for the MAJORITY of us if everyone would just agree on one, which we can’t because a majority in peace means a minority is pissed and ready to rumble and that’s not World Peace), we can’t actually define what peace actually IS because it’s a subjective word and the reality is that sometimes one person’s peace comes at the expense of another’s. (Just ask one of my six children at any given moment.) So even when we might be in a brief period of not killing each other, we are still at least scowling at each other over the fence because of at least one of the three major causes of war: economics, power and religion. (The H World Cause of War Theory of begetting the wrong person and then getting smoted for it fits nicely in all three of these causes if you zero in the lens).
The reality is that war IS as much my fault as anyone’s. NO you dirty minded, wretched people, I haven’t been begotten by someone who should not have been begetting me (at least in recent times). BUT I AM a prickly bitch much of the time and my heart always seems to be fighting about something. I get mad and bitter when I am broke. I get angry and defensive when I think I have been made to feel small and powerless. And I have slammed the door on evangelists who don’t speak my spiritual language when I could have at least offered them a drink of water. We ALL need a drink of water every now and then.
So on this Memorial Day my hope is to ponder what it means to have peace in my own heart. Or at LEAST a temporary ceasefire when my family comes together for ribs and cornbread. This is the one thing I CAN do to honor the brave people who have made the ultimate sacrifice, for MY country YES, most absolutely and assuredly, but also those who died on “the other side” whose loved ones mourn equally. Death is brutal, painful and certain for all of us, even when there is NOT war. And while I can only try and fix my own heart in this broken world, you’ve all read the famous Albert Einstein quote:
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
the reality is we (and I) will probably always be at war in some way shape or form. It’s what we do. We, most of us, are lost and angry and scared people who lash out. And I speak for myself ONLY when I say that burying my head in the sand is not going to stop it. Nor is fighting with mostly innocent gnats and husbands.
But I can from this moment on keep my
eyes wide open,
heart as well
for with knowledge and love
there’s a story to tell
I just made that up. But it sounds rather poetic and hopeful.