WHY MAKE LIFE A BATTLEFIELD?
After my friend Billy died at age twelve, and I survived two years of boarding schools in Europe, I wandered in solitude the forest trails from valley bottom to mountain meadow and beyond. And always I found a deep stillness underlying the peace of Nature.
Life was simple in those bygone days. The forest air was clean and the streams ran pure with sweet, crystalline water. The wind sang in the treetops and carried the liquid melody of birds into the depths of my soul. For me, life was a constant treasure trove of novelty and wonder, as night gave way to day and the seasons flowed one into another wherein everything followed Nature’s rules of engagement in life. And everywhere Nature’s exquisite beauty of form and function surrounded me, there to please my eye, inform my intellect, and heighten the consciousness of my being.
As the years of my youth passed into the shadow realm of history, I began to notice an insidious change creeping into the world of human society. War, as a way of life, claimed predominance in the human psyche, as evidenced by its progressive articulation in everyday social speech: the US Army Corps of Engineers is at war with the Mississippi River. Foresters and farmers are at war with weeds, insects, and anything else that dares to eat a coveted plant. There is a righteous war on poverty and hunger, a war on cancer, a war on obesity. There are holy wars and political wars of all kinds, as well as a war against Nature in general. There even is an “official” war on terror and a separate war on violence. In the end, we, as a highly competitive society, seem more and more willing—even driven—to making life into a battlefield in order to get what we want, whatever it is. What’s more, we never seem to have enough.
Every time we think “war” we are a little closer to becoming what we profess to be against—violence in one form or another because a war of any kind is violent by nature and incapable of being anything else. And violence, which begins as fear, grows until it is at last acted out.
To become a truly peaceful society for the rest of the world to emulate, we must transcend violence; we must, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “become the change we want to see.” We can rise above violence only by focusing on peace with total concentration, dedication, and persistence. Peace will reign when there no longer is any thought of war at any scale. This is but saying that to eliminate war and its violence, we must focus our thoughts totally on peace, for we cannot serve two masters—war and peace. We must choose one. Which shall it be? But, remember, whichever we choose today, the consequences we inexorably bequeath to all generations of all time.
So, why not choose peace and experience daily the beauty and wonder of life as it surrounds us. We are, after all, an inseparable part of Nature, which is life itself. For the sake of all generations, let’s choose life in all its splendor.
Text © by Chris Maser, 2010. All rights reserved.