Once again the world has been shadowed by inhumane acts committed in the Ukraine, Gaza, and the ongoing atrocities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. I am sickened with grief and shame for the cruelty that human beings are continuously capable of doing.
Warfare has been a repetitive cruel way of resolving disputes, that has cursed most of man’s history on earth. You think human societies would have learned a few things, after all the wars that have plagued mankind, especially the last two great wars and the atrocious monstrosities of the holocaust.
Sadly no, hate and prejudice remain, and it seems we have only learned to make bigger and more destructive weapons, that require each country to invest huge amounts of money in protecting themselves. Even more frightening is that these latest weapons of mass destruction have filtered into the hands of terrorists masquerading as rebellious defenders of geographical borders or religious ideologies.
I weep for all the mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters in the name of war, conflicts, disputes, and everyday violence. War begets war, bloodshed begets bloodshed, violence begets violence and the vicious cycle repeats itself at another time for each succeeding generation.
I can’t change the world, but I can at least squeak my horror and outrage to whoever has the eyes to read and comprehend my words. These past weeks has been hard to stomach for any sensitive soul who has any grain of heart felt compassion for all those who have died at the hands of those whose geopolitical and or religious ideology is more important that the lives of men, women and children.
With the 298 deaths of innocent travelers on Malaysian airline, whose bodies were scattered on the wheat fields, shot down by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist/terrorists, and the innocent victims on both sides of the ongoing Israeli/ Palestinian war , it has been a bloody and shame filled weeks by any account.
Of course these events have garnered our most recent attention and outrage, but globally our planet has been simmering in one spot or another with violence for years. The continuous human carnage in Syria, that seems endless, is now the newest training ground for young extremists Islamic jihadists, who want to spread their violent spores back to their home country.
Add to this the everyday violent crimes that occur everywhere, especially in my country of origin, and one can easily think that there isn’t a safe place on the planet.
Masses of men throughout the ages have demonstrated a need to dominate and conquer, regardless of the blood that is shed. Domination, aggressivity, and intolerance without any moral brakes gives way to mass destruction.
Supposedly, it wasn’t always that way, as there is record of some societies that lived in peaceful harmony for many years, such as the Catalhoyuk and the Minoans, up until about 3000 BC. Catalhoyuk lies on the Anatolian plains, now modern day Turkey and the Minoans on the island of Crete in Greece.
Perhaps we can learn from these societies, where there was more equality in social classes and between the sexes. The primarily feminine traits of nurture, compassion and empathy were more honoured than traditional male ones of dominate and conquer by aggression.
Adding fuel to the explosive mentality of brutal savagery is the desensitization of violence and aggression in everyday life. Look at our media rife with hugely popular bloody scenarios of warfare and seek and destroy games.
Adolescent males are often obsessed with them, and unfortunately those with sociopathic tendencies will act those out in real life, causing mass destruction of lives. Killing your target, by just a click on a screen can be quickly translated to pulling a trigger or pushing a button to release missiles.
Though recent research demonstrates sociopathic tendencies can be inherited, they can also be thwarted or minimised with good parenting. Tragically, there are a lot of families that are breeding grounds of violence through abuse and neglect.
None of us has the power to change the world, but we can look into our own hearts. If collectively our hearts are a microcosm of our world, then there is a great deal of cleansing to do to achieve a more peaceful coexistence.
Technology has increasingly shrunk our planet, through travel and the ability to instantaneously dialogue all over the world. We all have the chance to seed peacemakers across the globe with our words and everyday behaviour.
Strive to be a model of love and peace within your own family. Start now by cleansing your own heart of prejudice, anger, bitterness, and the need for revenge. Practice tolerance by listening rather than drowning out others with your own opinion.
Strive to resolve conflicts by understanding the others point of view through open dialogue, rather than allowing your anger to wound others with sharp hurtful words that you can never take back.
Teach non violence to your children through not just words, but using your own behavior as an example. Talk to them about the value of kindness towards others and let them be a witness to your own kind acts.
Nurture compassion and empathy with your little ones, showing them your own in how you relate to them, animals and others. Teach tolerance, respect and understanding of others culture and religious beliefs.
If hate and prejudice can be generational, so can breeding love, tolerance, understanding and non violence. We reap collectively what we sow in our own families and society.
Despite the harsh reality, I do know there is goodness of men and women that have walked before us and are in our presence now. We can’t all have the voice of Saint Francis, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, nor the Dalai Lama, but we can integrate their teachings in our everyday lives, and share within our families and communities at large.
Last night, I attended a demonstration in front of Notre Dame, for the Christians persecuted in some areas of the middle east, the majority who have had to flee their homeland to escape persecution and death.
Following, was a Mass said for those who died on the Malaysian airline and for a prayerful call for peace. Notre Dame cathedral supposedly can hold around 6,000 people and the aisles were crammed with those standing like myself.
I thought about all the prayers and cries for peace that has resounded around those massive ancient stone pillars and walls since the end of the 12 th century. The incense slowly permeating the air enveloped me with an inner stillness and calm.
I lingered by the altar till the lights dimmed and savoured the quietness that I love as this magnificent church empties of her faithful. Many candles were flickering in the deepening dark, giving off a halo of hope that carried me home.