There is a small, nameless creek flowing through the meadow below my house that my grandsons love to visit. We sometimes spend hours wading there, exploring, and throwing stones into the clear water.
When you are four years old, it is difficult to be bored. Small activities give you great pleasure. As adults, we need more. More activity, more busyness, more stimulation. It is good, peaceful, to spend the afternoon with a four-year-old and take the time to slow down.
My mind sometimes wanders as the four-year-old throws stones into the creek. I am usually the gatherer of the stones and he is the thrower. I select the stones indiscriminately. Some are polished and shiny, some dull and lumpy, depending on the location of their origin and how long they have been tumbled by the water.
Words are like stones, I think. They come in all shapes and sizes, some are beautiful and some are plain, and they have a myriad of uses.
Words can wound if they are aimed and thrown, just like stones. They can cause scars and bruises when used as weapons. Words, like stones, can be used to build a wall. The wall can be protective, keeping out the unwanted, or they can build a prison, trapping us inside.
Stones and words both can be used to represent beauty. They can be gemstones, luminous and brilliant. Words can be coveted like treasure or used to inspire. They can have healing powers, they can be strong, immutable.
Today, November 4, is Peace Day. Let us use our powerful words in the cause of peace. The title of this blog “Dona Nobis Pacem” translates to “Grant Us Peace“. This can mean peace as an individual through prayer, meditation or other means, or it can mean world peace, as in the absence of war.
As of August 5, 2018, there have been 3,458 coalition deaths in the war in Afghanistan, according to Wikipedia, about two-thirds of them American. Over 100,000 Afghans have died as a result of the war. Approximately 14,000 American troops are located there still, as they have been for the past 17 years. Despite this presence, the Taliban operates openly in over 70% of the country.
For the past three years, there has been a war in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government. The organization Save the Children estimates that over 50,000 Yemeni children have died this year as a result of the war, and over three million citizens have been displaced. The U.S. has provided weapons, ground troops, and support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels.
In Syria, the government of Bashar al-Assad is fighting against various opposition groups with shifting and confusing alliances. Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah support the Syrian government. Turkey supports some opposition groups. The U.S.-led coalition has conducted airstrikes in Syria with the declared intent of countering ISIS and has also bombed government and pro-government forces.
All of the parties listed above (including the U.S.) have been accused of human rights violations and massacres. Total deaths are difficult to ascertain, but most sources put the number at somewhere close to half a million people. The war has also sparked a refugee crisis of huge proportions, with people, understandably striving to shield their families from destruction, fleeing the country. It is estimated that at least five million refugees (maybe as many as seven million) have resulted from this war.
We must pursue peace. What can we do? Here are some suggestions:
- First and foremost, we must each make a personal commitment to non-violence ourselves.
- We must reject discrimination and prejudice in all forms.
- Volunteer either with a religious organization (such as The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development or the American Friends Service Committee) or community organization (such as the Alliance for Peacebuilding or the Enough Project).
- Look people in the eye and say “Hello” when you pass them (one of my personal favorites).
- As Thich Nhat Hanh says “We must be ‘lovingly honest’; we must discipline ourselves to speak in a manner that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility“.
- Attend a meditation or conflict resolution training.
- Write a blog about promoting peace. Follow this link to participate.
- Post on social media promoting peace. You can do that here on Facebook or here on Twitter.
- Believe there is good in the world, then begin seeking peace and pursuing it.
I am linking with Just a Second for Scripture and a Snapshot, Peabea Photography for Sunday Scripture Blessings, Anita Ojeda for Inspire Me Monday, Clean Eats Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Mary-andering Creatively for LMM, blovedboston for Weekending, Purposeful Faith for RaRa link up, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Char at Trekking Thru, Shelbee on the Edge for Spread the Kindness, Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, and A Spirit of Simplicity for Selah.