About a month ago, I posted about a peace vigil that was going to occur here on JMU's campus. And guess what? It happened! I won't say that hundreds showed up and we marched through campus, demanding peace from our leaders, sitting silently in a mass energy circle that vibrated the entire cosmos (because it didn't happen that way).
What did happen, however, is that a small group of people about 17 of us, showed up, talked a bit, and then went a sat down in a circle for 51 minutes. No rainbows, no lotus petals, no doves, just a nice clear day and a breeze. And that was, in and of itself, perfection. Thank you to everyone who came, sat, and witnessed to the tragedy of war and violence. It's not the end of peace-making, but the beginning of a long and hard road to live peacefully.
I've often thought that standing with a gun is easy. Of course, it takes many hours of preparation to become a soldier in the military. But facing someone in a conflict while holding a weapon is certainly easier than not. I carried a knife for a period of time after I was nearly attacked in high school. Somehow it made me feel as if I had control over the world; if anyone was going to attack me they certainly wouldn't do so again.
I don't do that anymore. I use my knife to cut apples now, rather than for defense. If someone were to attack me now I don't know what I'd do, but I doubt I'd fight back. I would speak on the nature of non-violence, the fact that soldiers of peace are still soldiers but really I don't have the experience to speak on that, so I won't. What I will say is that we have the opportunity to choose peace. For those who feel they are backed into a corner with no way out but through violence I must say I disagree. History speaks to the fact that, as cliche as it sounds, violence begets violence. We're willing to listen to politicians who proclaim that we haven't yet learned from history with respect to our economic situation, a true statement, but yet these same figures can't seem to say the same for our history of conflict and conflicts to end conflict from the previous conflict. Perhaps these two are related? But that's for another day...
Non-violence requires that we be free within ourselves. If no prison, laws, or oppression can harm us, then we are free to move forward without the sense of the need to "water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants", or something to that effect. Maybe if we as a people learned to be free where we are, we might make some positive changes in the world. Idealistic? Yes. Even feeling free in life, things still need to be changed, rights protected, and liberties fought for. But the way we fight can change. Instead of harsh screams, venomous words, and the barrel of a gun an acceptance, and righteous opposition to the status quo.
Just some thoughts.