Friday, July 03, 2009

what is it all about?


Another Canadian soldier died today from a homemade bomb of hatred. A married father of three daughters. A man who was an elite human soldier from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry..... Corporal Nicholas Bulger. They played an interview with him on Canada Day and he spoke of how different it was to be in Afghanistan because he sees how much of a difference our Armed Forces are making. He stated that he saw it when he watched the children play freely when they once weren't able to. "When you look into the eyes of the children, you get a different perspective...." he said. A different perspective.... we could all use a bit of that kind of insight.

I think he saw human universality. He could relate to those children because it connected him to what he knows and sees here, on his home turf of Canada. It was obvious that it touched his heart with inspirational motivation, and in turn it touched me. I connected to this soldier because I was able to see and hear him ..... I heard his emotions .... heard his human-ness. And because I connected from my heart, I am saddened by his passing at a deeper level. I understand what he meant.

One Canadian man died today. 5 other soldiers were injured from the same blast. They were all members of Brigadeer General Jonathan Vance's technical team who toured sites with him, protecting him, reacting to any threats, responding to violence. Every death of a soldier is sad no matter what side of the trench he/she is on. Every death of an innocent victim is sad. Every death from the suffering of conflict is sad.

Violence prevails on every corner of our planet in some capacity or another. It's been there from the beginning of man, which makes me acknowledge to myself that we all have the potential to be violent. Even if I choose not to be, I still have it in me. Everyone does. So, what is it in a person to allow the violence to surface? What lies underneath the ACT? What is it that feeds hate which in turn flames a war? The only thing I can think of is a festering fear.....a fear so intense and so unresolved that it ferments in its own seething irrationality.

What do you fear the most? What are you most frightened of? It's good to know. It's important to consider what it is you fear and why...... AND how it impacts your choices and how you see others, both in your own neighbourhood and beyond. You can't work on those fears if you won't even begin to take a look at them. And they will fester....and they DO impact your choices and your lens. No one is exempt from this.....

I have been haunted by the photo Paul posted on his blog this week.....a man holding a mortally wounded child in blood stained clothes, his body contorted in death... his innocent face striped in his own blood. Maybe before this boy was injured, he was able to somehow get lost in some form of play? Even under those circumstances? I don't know.

The man is carrying this young one (his son? his neighbour's son? his nephew? a stranger to him?) along the drydirt path beside the wall that keeps them in and away from basic necessities, in the line of fire. Violence prevails. It prevails on both sides of the wall only the humans within the cement fortification have no choice but to attempt to survive as prisoners, as sitting targets of violence. Innocents suffer. There are no words.

What fear feeds this hatred? What anguish sucks the marrow out of love? Frightened of the other? Is that it? War and violence stem from our incessant fear of someone who is different? Different religion, different culture, different way of interacting in this world?

I read a story Jean Vanier conveyed about a Jewish woman named Etty Hillesum who died in Auschwitz at the age of 29. In her journal after she had been yelled at by a Gestapo officer, she wrote: "I felt no indignation, rather a real compassion and would like to ask: 'Did you have a very unhappy childhood, has your girlfriend let you down?'"

There she was in a place of living Hell, but she had an abiding belief that each person is a "house" where God resides. She believed that every single person had the potential to carry the mystery of God within the essence of being able to love and to be loved. Through that lens, she saw the beauty in every individual. Etty Hillesum, Vanier wrote, is one of the people who has influenced him the most. I bet Etty projected a calm sense of kindness and compassion as her approach to combatting the hatred fueled in the hearts of the Gestapo who ruled Auschwitz. Through believing in compassion.......one always feels forgiveness.....

I wish we could teach this. I wish we could believe in the power of compassion and kindness....of empathy. I wish we could live by the belief that all human beings are loved and can love. If we have the propensity to be violent, than we all have the propensity to be loving. Right?

We could erradicate the fermentation of irrational fears and turn it into wine instead. Wine to sip and share...... If we really want to. We have to start at looking at our own fears....! Then the very idea of making a bomb wouldn't even be considered. Then maybe walls would come down and little boys could play within the safe haven of their peaceful neighbourhoods. Then we wouldn't continue to mourn the loss of human beings struck down by the violence of wars. But how? How do we turn this world around so that people stop spitting venom and hatred at one another? I think it begins by looking into the eyes of the other. Just like Corporal Nicholas Bulger did with the Afghanistan children. It changed his perspective.
It can change our own. When was the last time you truly looked into the eyes of another human being? It may make all the difference.

______

This week's prompt at Sunday Scribblings is "human." To see more contributions, check out their blog.

19 comments:

irene said...

A timely reminder to look into the eyes of another human..in the midst of violence and death

Romany Angel said...

What a powerful and thought provoking post Dana. I was also greatly effected by the photo on Paul's post. Sometimes there simply are no words....

Awareness said...

Irene....I can't think of any other way than to start connecting that way.

Gypsy....a look of compassion may be silent, but it packs more strength than any words we have.
The photo is almost too difficult to look at. It makes me feel helpless.

Understanding Alice said...

Thsnk you - a much needed post in flippant times

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

dana,

as always, i am moved by your posts. emotions and feelings that i didn't even know i had or that have long laid dormant, errupt from deep inside. and i am left open and raw, thinking....

that photo? i saw my son. he was someones lovely boy.

tradgedy.

Old Grizz said...

you are correct about the human soul. we all have the ability to hate and the ability to harm others and it is not very far beneath the skin. We all must look in the eyes and souls of others and try to understand them. thank you for a great post.

Awareness said...

Alice...it does seem like flippant times, despite the recession and the conflicts erupting across the globe. I wonder though that it is sometimes needed.... the lightening up in order to cope with the inundation of so many tragic stories? Maybe it's part of maintaining our resiliency? It would be nice to have a balance though. I think we'd cope better.

irish heather....I had intended to write a very short piece on the idea that we all have the propensity for violence. Then, the tragic news that another Canadian soldier died yesterday.... and then when I saw the prompt topic, I thought I'd try to pull it together. I'm glad it worked. Thank you.

Ps. You're so right..... He is someone's son and I'm sure they will never be the same. I can't imagine it.

Old Grizz.....what a wonderful blog name.... :)
It is quite frightening to recognize just how close to the skin our ability to hate and harm really is.
Thank you for your comment.

Marja said...

It sometimes gives a feeling of utter desparation to be surrounded by so much hatred, war etc. and to stay connected to love. But it is true to conquer the dark you have to let in the light

Independent Chick said...

My heart breaks....again.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

The old adage...Put Yourself In Their Shoes, too....
Hard to do. All of it. But I have always been ispired by Anne Frank saying, "In spit of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart".
This blows me away---that she could say that in the situation she was in.....
I must admit I think I am getting less tolerant of many things the older I have gotten....My patience for them is nil! I feel bad about that, more than I can say...but....Maybe this is the way of the Human Condition, too....
But, I think in the deeper things, I have more compassion now than I ever did.....I don't know...

Very very interesting post, Dana....

AD said...

that kinda leaves me speechless... thank you!

wonderful piece of sharin

Nostalgic Human

Awareness said...

Marja...it does numb our feelings doesn't it? We grow protective shields to guard from even recognizing the violence and death.

Stacey.... Tragically, it won't be the last death...

Naomi....I love that quote from Anne Frank. Her diary and subsequent books on her life have inspired me deeply. What amazing gifts and resilience she had.

AD....you're welcome. I'm glad you read it.

Tammie Lee said...

Your post is wonderfully inspiring. I agree looking deeply into another persons eyes can make a difference.
Also learning compassionate communicate is very powerful. I thought of it as I was reading your post and then you brought compassion up. I went to a lecture by Marshall Rosenberg, he teaches this and councils with troubled folks around the world with amazing results!

ThomG said...

Powerful and inspiring. Just nicely told.

Finality

JP/deb said...

I think you're absolutely right about fear being the genesis of hate and violence.

I wish every fear was replaced with hope, compassion and understanding ... what a different world that would be.

Peace & love to you Dana. Thanks for another wonderful read.

xx,
JP/deb

MichaelO said...

A wonderfully compelling post. Many fine examples of the beauty and the ugliness of humanity. And many good questions. The one for me, what makes me afraid? What ills may come of my children? The note of a mutilated child. That would raise my ire. And I am only human.

Nara malone said...

When talk turns to war, one side paints the other as less than human, not like themselves. I think it is projects like this that change things, projects that allow people from all corners of the world to share their fears and joys, to see through each others eyes,too share our humanity.

Awareness said...

Tammie Lee....I can't think of a more important lesson to pass onto our children. I've never heard of Marshall Rosenberg, but will look him up. Thanks. :)

ThomG...thank you. I appreciate your comments.

Deb....maybe the only way to a better understanding of compassion and hope is to really delve into our own fears and figure them out.

MichaelO....My fears are tied to my childrens' health and safety too. And I think if they were in danger, I would be the first to lash out.....

Nara....yes, I think the one side turns the other side into a one dimensional non-human portrait.....as a means of rationalizing their actions.
Let us have the courage to look into the eyes of someone who may have different opinions or may live in a different culture.

AD said...

one of the few posts that has left an impact on my brains.
and speechlessness prevails....

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