The WeaveMothers, one and several, saw the thread snap. It whipsawed through the firmament as the tapestry of reality sagged and fragmented. Like so many other wherewhens, the place of weakness involved the worldtime of the brighter spot. As much as they could experience Fear, they feared another stillbirth should the loose cable strike the brightness.
And, one and several, they wondered if it didn’t seem dimmer.
The Engineer seized the braking lever suddenly and pulled with all hir might. The giant wheels locked and a plaintive squeal proclaimed the rending of the fabric.
The Storyteller ceased singing the song. The Listener’s head turned to watch the Passenger fall from the seat and awaken suddenly. On the Passenger’s head there was what could have been blood…near where there could have been other scars. Some of the Passenger’s face came away in its forelimb.
Turning to look outside they all noticed a thread slicing through the Greataway which grazed the front end of the Locomotive and knocking it from its former Happentrack.
Reality vibrated with pain and sadness.
The Storyteller spoke the words, “There is no joy in Mudville.” The Listener and the Passenger intoned, “Mighty Casey.”
Quiet ensued. It was the quiet one hears after an echo passes.
Peace is elusive. It always has been and many people over my life have told me that it always will be. In fact, I’ve had people assert to me many times through the years that War is our natural state.
I’ve always rejected that notion (but that does not mean that if you believe it, that I reject you). I just can’t hold that thought in my head and continue to consume any of the nutrients necessary to sustain life. What would be the point?
Early in my life, I thought it might be sufficient for me personally to practice nonviolence…to engage in Peace. I believed it would be enough to surround myself with whatever peace I could find. Given our family life, that meant walling myself off in my room as much as possible. But how much peace does that spread?
I’ve mentioned Mr. Stafford before. When I discovered he had been a Conscientious Objector during World War II, he became my hero. That more than anything is probably what started me reading his poems whenever I could find one. They didn’t capture my imagination as much as cummings or Sandburg or William Carlos Williams or Dylan Thomas…or later the Beat poets…and even later the women, who had so carefully been elided in those early years. But they were the work of a man of Peace…and I was desperate.
I was born in April of 1948. Here is some of what transpired in my first dozen years:
Costa Rican Civil War, March – April, 1948
1948 Arab-Israeli War, May, 1948 – June, 1949
Internal conflict in Myanmar 1948 – present
Malayan Emergency, 1948 – 1960
Korean War, 1950 – 1953
PLA Invasion of Tibet, 1950 – 1951
Tunisian War of Independence, 1952 – 1956
Mau Mau Uprising, 1952 – 1960
Uprising of 1953 in East Germany, June – July, 1953
Algerian War of Independence, 1954 – 1962
First Sudanese Civil War, 1955 – 1972
Hungarian Uprising, October – November, 1956
Sinai Campaign, October, 1956 – March, 1957
Cuban Revolution, 1956 – 1959
Ifni War (Western Sahara), October, 1957 – June, 1958
Lebanon Crisis of 1958, July – October, 1958
1959 Tibetan Rebellion, 1959
Vietnam War, 1959 – 1975
I turned 12 in 1960. I’ve got 150 more to go in the following 48 years of my life, but the horror of the above list is already too much for me. And that 150 doesn’t count the Cold War, which I count as the biggest armed conflict of all time.
I count 26 as ongoing…major War in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq and Somalia, and so-called “armed conflicts” in Myanmar, Colombia, Peru, the Phillipines, Laos, Kurdistan/Turkey, Uganda, Kashmir, Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India, Kivu/Congo-Kinshasa, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, Thailand, Chad, Mexico, Niger/Mali. And that isn’t counting the West Bank or that there are two separate conflicts in India.
But this is supposed to be about peace.
I’m struggling with that since I feel like I am being barraged with conflict. The asynchronicty of blog participation assures that. If ever things begin to calm down, someone is going to show up who missed the fact that they would have done so and reignite the fire intended to burn this place down. Burn, baby, burn. That is not peace. So how do I write about peace?
Mr. Stafford refused to serve in the military during WWII. He spent most of those years in a CO work camp one place or another. One of those was in Arkansas. I found it an interesting diversion when I lived there to visit some of the places where work was done, like Petit Jean State Park, and imagine that he personally had worked there. The biography/remembrance by his son is not specific enough for me to know for sure.
William’s brother was a soldier. I’m sure that caused family disruption of one sort or another. After all, they were of the same faith (Church of the Brethren). Members of the Peace Churches had a choice of whether or not to fight. Of course the option to not fighting was being part of a work gang…and for those not of the right religion, it was just a chain short of being on a chain gang.
They pretty much closed that loophole when it came to be my time to serve. What 18 year old can clearly, passionately and concisely express his feelings against war well enough to gain CO status…unless one can prove the Peace Church connection. The Lutheran Church was not a Peace Church. So I ran rather than serve…and tried to serve in other ways…until I was caught and given the choice between learning to kill or five years in prison. I chose the former but clung to the knowledge that if I would be forced to actually apply that knowledge, I could run again…probably be caught again…and still do the prison thing.
I spent my years in the Army trying to spread as much peace as I could. It is not easy to do that in a military atmosphere. But resistance is not futile. Resistance sometimes succeeds. And we sometimes have to accept the few small victories we can achieve and try to build on those.
And sometimes we have to work on the thing without which there can be no Peace, which is Justice. At least that’s what I believe: No justice means no peace…at least for those people who are not being justly treated, those people who are being denied justice. I’d go so far as to say, that’s what I have learned, that’s what I know, from 60 years of living. But I’m pretty sure someone may challenge me on that.
How does one wage peace? It’s a hard concept. Working with those peace churches is one way. Do what you can to feed the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless and empower the powerless. There are ways of doing that, many organizations which will accept help in doing so. But the point of that, of course, is to try to prevent the next war.
Some believe that is all we can do: try to prevent the next war.
As individuals, there is little that we can do to stop War that is ongoing. I believe War can never be ended by fighting. All fighting does is move the location of the conflict, perhaps sublimate it for a few months, a few years, until it erupts again.
What can a person do? Walk out on the battlefield and try to take the guns away from the soldiers? From both sides? Maybe if there were enough of us. I’m game to give it a try if there are people with me. Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?
What can the individual do? I’ve relied on trying to teach the children, or at least teach the young people who will become parents, and specifically teach those who are going to teach the children. The problem is that what I may have imparted will at best be hearsay and at worst be distorted by a culture which celebrates conflict, which is motivated by greed, and which has no time…or energy…to challenge injustice.
Waging peace is not easy. But the cost of not waging it, even if only in our personal lives, is too dear.
Somewhere in one of the below places, as Sun was once again passing over, Canyon noticed a sudden fissure open and then close in the sky, leaving perhaps no change except less sky…and maybe less hope.
The WeaveMothers stared at the puncture and wondered if the autonomous beings would work to close it or to make it larger. As much as they knew sadness, it hung over them.
That is the thing about autonomy. The creatures would decide what song to sing.