Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Potatoes and Pacifists
I'm a pacifist. There I said it. The secret is out, not like it was a secret, but I'm officially out of the closet. This was much easier to do when I lived in Oregon's Quaker Mecca. Not so easy since the move to the farm. I don't want to offend people, people who I enjoy, call my friends, but who do not hold this belief or conviction. At our church(which we love), I think we are the clear minority in our belief of non-violence. (If not the only ones.)
But this move from majority to minority has been good for us. My husband and I discuss, debate, and still stand firm in this call of Christ to be peacemakers. Yet, I have really valued my relationships with friends who's husbands are in the military. I value them and hope to continue my relationships and conversations with them. I hope they have felt my support as their husbands have been deployed or been away for training during this time of war.
I totally get that it doesn't really make sense. That it seems unpatriotic. That it goes against the American heritage that I am benefiting from. I didn't always feel this way. It was a conclusion I came to in my early 20's. Maybe my parents thought/hoped it was a phase. (I actually have relatives who have fought in every war our country has been in...starting with the Revolution. I did my college senior thesis project on one of our ancestors who was captured by the English and taken to a prison ship. My whole thesis was to show that a sense of community and a belief in God helped those prisoners survive. The interesting things is that this ancestor was actually trying to avoid the war and moved his family "west," but was captured in the middle of the night, while sleeping in his bed. Maybe it should be another blog post. It is quite interesting; we have his diary account. Pst, this is what writers would call a really bad tangent.)
I want my three sons to know there are many ways to be heroes. I think my husband is a hero. I am proud that at 15 he registered as a conscientious objector. (Right after the 1st Gulf War began.) I hope my sons do the same. Of course, this would have been easier if we were surrounded by a community of friends who agreed and championed our version of heroism. In our old church there were classes for young people to take, classes on pacifism. This makes it a whole lot easier when convincing the draft board of your religious conviction. Way more convincing when you are an active member of a traditional peace church.
Right now I'm planting seeds, presenting the option of non-violence---looking for tools I can use to teach my sons the value of peace vs. war. That is why I love the book Potatoes, Potatoes. It reads like a fable, but the truths in it are undeniable. My sons sit quietly and take in the narrative. The mother, the lead, has two sons. They live in a walled garden, snug in their cottage. The armies of the East and West wage war all around them. As the two sons age, they become curious. They are drawn and captivated by the shiny medals, sharp swords, and handsome uniforms. They leave their mother, their home, and their potatoes. At first it is all good, but slowly they are exposed to the reality of war. Their armies are dying, both by combat and by starvation. Both sons know where there is some food, plenty for all. They lead their armies to the walled home of their youth. This is where the climax takes place---the big scene.
We have had many good discussions from this book. We are starting to talk and apply conflict resolution in our own family. When the boys fight, I ask them who is going to be the peacemaker and not throw the next punch? I've started to hear them resolve things on their own. The other day my oldest announced, "OK, I'm done. I'm going to be a peacemaker."
My goal is to present another option to my boys. When they get older, they will have to come to their own conclusions, their own convictions. I trust the process. I do not fear the outcome.