Peace Begins at Home

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Even after all the lovely words I wrote yesterday and the beginnings of a shift in my home life, I lost my cool as I was trying to get the kids ready to go out in the afternoon. Admittedly, this is my least favourite time of day. I have a tendency to wait to get them out of the house until they are literally bouncing off the walls, and so you can imagine how wrangling the three of them, in that state, when my patience is at it’s limits, is my personal hell.

But I realized something else yesterday, and it lead me to do some deeper reflecting. Right before I lost it and yelled, I’d been reading the news. I’d just finished reading an article about Donald Trump’s plans to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court.  I haven’t shed a tear in the last week over his election, but this really brought it home to me. This is happening. It’s not reversible and it’s going to have such far reaching effects that we can’t even begin to comprehend. My heart broke for my American sisters and their right to choose what happens to their bodies. That right has been under assault for as long as it’s been theirs, but there are those in the Supreme Court who defend it as best they can.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes that we must be mindful of the foods we ingest, and he includes not just actual foods but mental and spiritual foods. He writes that if we water the seeds of anger or hate or distress in our minds, then those are the seeds that will grow. Am I watering the seeds of anger by ingesting so many news stories and op-ed pieces, every day, that trigger my anger, my sadness, my feelings of hopelessness for the future? And where is the balance of looking at what is going on in the world, of bearing witness to it, and also protecting our hearts and minds? I recognize it is my privilege to even consider looking away, for a moment, from all of this. My right to an abortion isn’t under attack. My family isn’t being targeted by hate crime, isn’t under threat of deportation.

But if peace starts at home, then I need to do all that I can to water the seeds of love, peace, kindness and compassion within myself and my children. For now, I think I need to step back a bit from the big picture, the overwhelm of what is happening in the world, and focus down. Here is some of what I plan to do that:

  • read the Recommendations for report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • do what I can to ensure proportional representation is implemented here in Canada
  • read and write more poetry
  • meditation
  • talk about and model respect, empathy and kindness with my kids

I don’t want to stick my head in the sand. I don’t want to pretend like everything is okay. But I do think that it’s necessary in my life right now to pay close attention to what I take in, and how it’s affecting what I put out. Perhaps it’s time to focus on actions, my own and the actions of others. To seek out stories of hope and change. It’s an exercise of my privilege to completely avoid the news; I’m not sure I can do that. I think I have to continue to look, to hear what others are saying and bear witness to their experience. I need to find the balance, though, between looking and falling into despair.

Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the news lately? Has it been having an effect on your relationships? What actions for change do you plan to take?

Photo via Flickr user Kaveh F. Azad

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Remembrance

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As I came into the kitchen after putting Charlotte down for her nap, the opening notes of The Last Post came through the radio. I sat down, and, as always happens when I hear this music, tears began to fall. I sat with my eyes closed, and thought of my poppa and of all the men and women who have fought and died in the two World Wars, and who continue to fight and die in wars today. When I was little, I used to imagine my poppa on some barren battlefield, hearing a worn trumpet play this song as the sun rose.

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship to Remembrance Day. In the past I’ve wondered, does it glorify war? How is it a movement towards peace? But of course I’ve come to understand that it doesn’t glorify war to honour those who have fought against their will and those who went out of their way to fight (my poppa was one of them). To take a moment to remember what they’ve lost, whether we call it sacrifice or tragedy or both.

Each year that we mark Remebrance Day while wars still rage around the world, while soldiers and innocent people die, I feel hopeless. I feel like all of this death, in the end, is for nothing. The highest honour we could give our fallen soldiers, more than a poppy pinned to our lapels for a few weeks, more than wreaths laid at the foot of so many monuments, more than a collective pause before we continue our daily rounds, would be peace. We teach our children about the horror of war so that we can have peace. War upon war, horror upon horror, still we fight. We continue to mark this day, wishing for change, never seeing it. May part of our remembrance today be a prayer for peace tomorrow.

Image via Flickr user Hennasabel