> This morning I received a poem via e-mail written by a soldier serving in Iraq. It is a touching poem about military service (particularly at Christmas time), the price paid by those who serve, asking only that we remember and honor them when they return home, be they alive or dead. At the end of the e-mail, it asked that I pass it on to as many people as possible. Although I was deeply moved by the author’s expression of both sadness and selflessness, the request placed me in a difficult position in light of a conversation I had with our daughter yesterday.
Yesterday, I told our 14-year-old that I never wanted her to say or write anything in school that she did not believe in just to get the grade. I believe strongly that conformity, for the sake of acceptance or recognition, when it compromises core values and beliefs about who we really are, is a dangerous precedent that we humans have reinforced generation after generation. It’s a “follow the pack” mentality that keeps us unconscious around our choices and perpetuates so much of what is wrong in our world.
The best example is war. Which is why the poem caused me so much discomfort. Yes, that soldier has stepped-up to the plate and done what his country and his culture have asked of him. But did he search his own soul before he agreed to do what he is now doing? I often hear soldiers say, “My grandfather served, my father served, and I am serving.” This is not a reason, it’s a repetition. It’s unconscious behavior to do what has always been done. Which leads me to the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result.” War will not birth peace.
My husband and I appear to disagree on this one. He feels that a 14-year-old is in school to be “taught” and doesn’t need to believe in what she answers on a test in a particular class. However, that slippery slope to conformity at any price that I see beginning in grade school has me wondering if now, at age 59, he would again make the choice he made at age 19 to serve in Vietnam? I suspect not. And it would be because he is more conscious now around his choices and more aware of who he really is.
War is a mechanism to effect domination and greed. When people with the power to declare war lack the human capital to affect war, there will be no war. Making sure such people lack the human capital they require is your job and mine.
I pray the soldier who wrote the poem, and all the others, comes home alive tomorrow. I pray my daughter sees it my way and never compromises herself, or her beliefs, to advance her position. I pray that each of us takes a moment to stop before we act without thinking and follow what came before just because that is how it’s always been done or how the surrounding culture see it. I pray that each of us knows our own hearts and minds and lives our lives consistent with who we truly are.
These are my prayers this holiday season.
And this is my prose.
Pass it on to as many people as possible.