Monday, July 17, 2006

Breaking Free from the Cycle of War

This past weekend I caught a small-venue concert with the group Sunday Afternoon. It was totally by chance that I found myself there, but I'm glad that I was able to hear their music. They're a semi-acoustic rock band that knows how to light up a stage. I bought their latest CD, Something Always Leads You Home and was thrilled to see their lyrics printed in the disc jacket.

Here is an excerpt of the words of Track 8 - Free

Well it don't bother me,
if you roll your eyes-throw your hands
into the air.
I never notice,
Did they turn away, run and hide
So many wounded hours you spend
all alone.
How the colors of sky radiate in your
eye but you never ask why.

I am waiting on the other side,
Won't you let it go and take a ride?
To a place where we all can be,
in the midst of it all we all want
to be free.
Did you ever just want to be the
one to feel free?

Now on with the story,
I was talking about everything that's
holding you down.
Don't downplay the glory,
we all scream and shout in this crazy
one-horse town.
Let's blaze us a new path,
won't you follow me slowly into the sun.
See I won't let you crash,
can you feel it inside everyone?

As with most things, context matters. Given the discussions of the past week on war and peace, I found the lyrics easily resonating with the call for an upheaval of the way we view the world.

The cycle of war is circular. One side offends the other for whatever reason. Bombs and bullets rain like acid and the tit-for-tat continues until someone with integrity steps in from the outside to show both sides that there is a better way. If a cease-fire is attained it is only as strong as the fundamental changes in the mindset of the opposing forces.

If there is a shallow acceptance of the ideals for Peace, then the situation is only one suicide bomb or soldier capture (or blog flamewar) away from total chaos. Justified chaos in the mind of the aggressor. It reminds me of the reality that many people in the U.S. are only one paycheck or one health crisis away from total poverty (I resemble this remark). It can be quite taxing to lay awake at night wondering if the income will be enough to meet all the bills, which includes the need for food.

Do I just lay there and agonize? or do I rethink my behavior on a fundamental level, challenging myself to change things that are within my power? Make lunch instead of buying it everyday, pass on the urge to buy more junk, or perhaps just as simple as putting away a portion of the bi-weekly checkbook for a rainy day fund. Personal accountability - something the leaders of the United States need to be reacquainted with soonest.

Back to matters of war. It is easy to characterize ruminations of Peace and non-violence as divorced from reality or weak, as we've seen repeatedly thrown at us from the neocons, but that is because they are viewing my, and others', worldview on their terms - as forms of rebuttal and confrontation - other manifestations of war - to their worldview. What they fail to realize is that the path we are seeking to blaze together is based on a more fundamental, inner-power that will ultimately lead to that stability and freedom that they love to blast us with using their various propaganda organs.

Squeezing blood from a stone is possible with matters of life and death, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It only takes a healthy imagination and some real leadership based on integrity. We've seen it before. In the past it has won the independence of India, voting and civil rights of women and African Americans in the United States, as well as worker protections and the fundamental right to organize among the agricultural fieldworkers of this country.

Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez didn't change the course of history by making their countries' people feel good about themselves. They were the prophets of their time, calling out the injustices and hypocrisy of an entire society and the need to reform at the deepest levels. They were faced with a multitude of backlash for their views, but the real power in their words were not that they were a rebuttal, a tit-for-tat solution to the ills of society, but rather a call for total transformation.

We need more of those types of truth-tellers today.

Crossposted at Human Beams

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