If There Is to Be Peace

If there is to be peace in the world,

there must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,

there must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,

there must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,

there must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,

there must be peace in the heart.

Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.E.)

How It Stops: Some Thoughts on “Westboro Baptist Church”

“Westboro Baptist Church” is the name of a disturbed cult of a few dozen people.  They are not a church, they are not Baptist, and they are most likely severely mentally ill.

If you don’t know about this group, congratulations.  If you would like to learn about them in some detail, you might start with this link in the Huffington Post and then do some Google searching on your own.  I prefer not to link directly to any of the group’s websites.

I have seen this group do its thing in celebration of the deaths of West Virginia coal miners.  What got my attention above anything else seeing it “live” was the presence of children.  Weeping children are dragged along, forced to carry signs that say “God hates (fill in the blank).”  Because the children are with the WBC adult picketers, any negative energy that comes from opposition to the protest on the street lands like another crushing boulder on these young souls.

Keep in mind that WBC does what it does very well, and by design.  It is an emotional terrorist organization that preys on grieving communities and attempts to spark rage and backlash so as to further fragment fragile situations. 

Fragmentation increases the likelihood that people will turn on one another over the slightest differences or misunderstandings.  The first thing to do is have a moment of outrage in private with people you trust.  Get it out of your system if you must, but it is crucial to move on to a firm conviction that these people have no power, no authority, and no voice of significance about God, your loved ones, or your community.  They are themselves desperately in need of positive energy and even prayer for their well-being.

The children in the midst of the chaos need the most help.  However tempting, don’t engage WBC in anger.  The only way this ends, be it WBC or any band of disturbed hate-mongers, is to respond in peace and love.

Fake it if you must, but get it done in front of these kids.  That is how it stops.

Image credit: Pablo Picasso

Blood and Peace

I love this line from Jessica DiGiacinto, “(I’m) just not built for peace.”  It comes from her recent blog post in which she ponders her own artistic nature, and if in fact it is one and the same with her nature overall. 

To be a writer, must one be in a constant state of struggle to some degree?

Ernest Hemingway is generally my go-to man on the nature of writers and writing.  He said so many wonderful things in this category that it’s difficult to pick just one, but a perennial favorite is this:

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

To have material, one must have met certain elements of life in a full embrace.  That is sometimes by choice, but often initially by accident.   Chasing life with reckless abandon can be fun, but frequently things seem to start with life coming after us.  That is an experience that leaves one a bit off-balance and glassy-eyed.

There is nothing to writing. Well, except that one thing…..

 The second requirement is what Papa addresses, the willingness to bleed it out in all of its hot, viscous, messy glory.

I don’t think writing requires that we be “built for peace.”  But I also don’t think it prohibits that mindset either.  The ancient practice of bloodletting rested on the literal belief that removing large quantities of blood from the body would prevent or cure disease.  This turned out to be more than a little misguided of course, but I think Hemingway’s expression is connected to this concept.  Good writing is a willingness to let out what wants to remain inside, to let it out despite the extreme difficulty and with a disregard for clean-up costs.

For many, it is about letting it out as a way of making peace, if not about being at peace.  I think we are all built for peace.  It’s the question of how we get there that makes us each unique.