Let Us Choose Peace

fullsizeoutput_f64Grainy shot from my trip to China–an incredible experience!

Today is the International Day of Peace.  I was excited weeks ago when I read it in my calendar, especially because the healing writing group I am involved with meets today.

The concept of “international peace” is simultaneously a fantasy that seems attainable, while also being something we can never touch.  Over the past week, peace has been in my face—or rather, the lack of it.  My heart is filled with sorrow at the hardness of humans against other humans, for differences that should bring us together.  Instead our governments, many media sources, propaganda, and our own prejudices divide us.

Two days ago I listened to a podcast by The Corbett Report about the lies that started the war in Afghanistan.  Last night, my husband and I watched some more of a documentary we’ve been viewing about Israel and how the United States gives carte blanche loyalty to a country committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.  9/11 recently passed, and I was again reminded of the millions of people affected by the United States choosing (even possibly orchestrating the events) to go to war for geopolitical reasons (i.e. greed).

This week you may have seen a woman from CodePink interrupting a presentation on the Iran Missile Program.  She spoke clearly, even while they tried to deter her from speaking out in support of the citizens of Iran who are constantly being hurt by decisions made by the United States government.

Peace.  We all seek it.  We all desire it.  We want it…for ourselves.  However, how many of us want it for the people we perceive as our enemies?  I say perceive, because statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be stung by a bee and die than die from a terrorist attack.  I say perceive, because if you follow social media accounts of travelers in the Middle East (where so many westerners base their fear) you would see incredible hospitality, people having fun, the most delicious food you can imagine, and a culture that cares.

That is the difference between people and governments.

When will we, as humans, stand up to the partisan politics that continue to wreak havoc on our WORLD?  My citizenship does not make me blind to the beauty and the atrocities around the globe.  I consider myself a citizen of the world.  I cherish what I have learned from my travels abroad and my chance meetings with internationals in the countries where I have resided.

Peace requires a change in our mentalities.  It requires us to remember and acknowledge the humanity in each one of us.  It forces me to remember the love I have for the person who says hateful things about other people I love.  It teaches me that through education peace has a greater chance of attainability because when people know something it can change their perspective.

Today, and every day, let’s choose peace—a peace that comes with well reasoned ideologies and process to create something better than we have ever experienced.  Something that goes beyond what we can fathom.  Think outside the box.  Imagine what can happen if we fight for peace and stop creating war!

Let us choose peace.

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Art As A Weapon

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I was browsing a site that sells art this evening.  At the top of a page, there was a description of modern art’s color blocking that emerged in the mid-twentieth century.  I remember wanting to spend significant time discussing and attempting to understand modern art during my art history class in college.  I found the subject frustrating—starting with Duchamp’s Fountain.  Now, when I see images from that era, or artists attempting to continue the genre, I sit back, annoyed that I ever gave it the time of day.

You see, earlier this summer, my husband and I watched a four-part documentary series filmed in the 90s.  One of the segments shared that the modern art movement was really a CIA propaganda move to combat the rise of the Soviet Union.  Essentially, it was a war of the arts to prove who could produce higher culture.

Tonight I watched the movie Florence Foster Jenkins.  I won’t bother with the synopsis (because you should go watch it), but she is a well to-do woman who can afford to sponsor her own music career—while funding the career of her own pianist.  Her husband protects her from negative criticism because…well, you’ll just have to watch the movie.  But, while watching it, I realized how the arts can be a healing force.

I’m married to a musician, but I am not one.  I love music—certain kinds of music.  It makes me feel so many emotions.  I rise and fall with it.  Art does not only belong to the rich.  It belongs to all of us.  In our home we are so fortunate to be surrounded by art almost entirely created by people we know.  None of them paint or draw for a living.  For most, it’s a hobby.  Different techniques.  All bring me pleasure.

I suppose I’m trying to explain that I feel cheated by the government for manipulating the world with art.  Would Pollock be famous without the CIA?  I know the great artists were funded by patrons—often the Catholic church.  I’m struggling with the idea that what I’ve grown up admiring is not pure, but rather is tainted by the souls of those who sold themselves out to governments that do not work for the good of the people, but for their own self-interests.

Thoughts While Aging

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Age is really on my mind.  Tomorrow’s my birthday.  I’m turning 27 (it’s still my mid-twenties, right?).  As I reflect on the last year…and two years…I realize I feel old and unaccomplished.

Maybe this is a theme in my life.  Growing up, I was always ahead; I knew more than most of my classmates, I read at a much higher level, was exposed to many historical and cultural things, and traveled around quite a bit.  Then I “mainstreamed” and met other people who were high-achievers and competitive.

Over time, my inner-drive diminished some.  Then, I started college—early.  Again, back to being ahead!  I graduated at 20, flew to NYC for an intensive journalism program, and then began job hunting back home (I was willing to move almost anywhere).  Truth be told, I don’t remember how many places I applied to prior to graduating.  They didn’t really prep us for those things.  In a way, I think colleges and universities didn’t realize how much the culture was shifting after the recession, which made getting hired way harder than it used to be.  (I promise this isn’t a sob story.)

After several years of working numerous part-time and seasonal jobs, moving across the ocean, and then moving back, I finally landed a full-time job.  It was rough at times, but it was employment.  Though looking for something new and in the field I love (journalism), I determinedly started my second year.  About a month into it, I found myself hospitalized and diagnosed with cancer.  Not exactly soaring forward in the career world.

Truthfully, the gap on my resume that comes from my nearly two year long fight with cancer and recovery is a stress in my life.  I often wonder how I will get hired without disclosing everything…and then they may not hire me anyway.  But, that’s a spiraling thought process—don’t focus on that.

The flip side of these nearly two years without work is the time I’ve had to grow as a person.  If I hadn’t fought it so much, I’d likely be much further along, but I do want there to be something to show at the end of this…more than a healthy body.  I want a healthy mind and spirit.  But, with all of that, I still feel behind—not as accomplished as other people my age.

Nevermind it all.  I have goals, daily, weekly, monthly, and beyond.  Now is the time to turn up the determination levels and dig in.  If I want it, I must work.  While I’ve been sick, I’ve simply felt like I could only survive.  Beyond that was often too much.  But, now I must push myself to increase my stamina as I continue to heal, recover, and regain normalcy.  These things beyond basic health will take work, but I want them.

So, now I close.  I’m only 26 for a little bit longer.
Who honestly knows what the new year will bring?
Only one way to find out!