This I Believe—
I believe that deep within every human heart, there is a prayer, or a plea, to end war before it ends us. My most poignant memories of early childhood center around the air raid drills of World War II, when our family, consisting of my younger brother, mother, father and myself would huddle under a tent, constructed of a dark blanket draped over four chairs, on the tiny back porch of our home in Sanford, North Carolina. My mother would place a lighted candle in the center of our hide-out, and my father would try to explain war. Since my father was the minister of the First Baptist Church, he would begin these little sessions by telling us that God would look after us and keep us safe. My immature five year old mind could not comprehend why any God would keep us safe and allow bombs to kill other families and children across the ocean. Daddy would explain that it wasn’t God who killed them, but that people sometimes declared war on other people when they disagreed about how things should be done and could not find a way to live peacefully in the same world, due to their differences. I could not begin to fathom why people would kill each other just because they could not agree on something. I remember looking at my four year old brother, aware that we were different and that I had wished he would just disappear when he bothered me, but killing him? I loved him and the other members of our family—well, most of the time.
Throughout the over six decades between World War II and today, my family has grown to include members of three different races and from five different countries, each of which has been involved in countless wars. When we get together, we do not all agree on how things should be done. We argue, as members of all families do, but the thought of any member even contemplating the possibility of killing another is abhorrent. Today, at almost 70 years of age, my more (hopefully) mature mind is still haunted by these same basic questions of why we seem to believe we have a sanctioned right to kill others because we are threatened by differences or cannot agree on how to solve problems. I believe if we could hold the true image of ourselves as one large family, huddled together under one large sky, on one tiny (in the grand scheme of things) planet, with resources that must be shared in order for us to survive, we might tap into that place in each of our hearts that believes in peace—and stretch our minds to come up with effective ways to create a more peaceful world. I believe the price for some of us will be high, but not as high as the looming alternative of annihilating ourselves through seeking control and power over others.
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