Thursday, August 9, 2007

Stop the War

Today on the corner of Main Street and Losey Boulevard in La Crosse, Wisconsin; I saw a man standing alone and carrying neon orange sign that read "Stop the War". My first thought was "Fuck you! You know nothing about war or the people who fight in them". I drove on - less than a block - and had another thought. "What would make that man think that standing on a corner in La Crosse, Wisconsin on a Thursday morning by himself think that the very fact of him standing there would do anything at all to "Stop the War"? Obviously, it struck me as a blog topic.

It's a few hours later and I'm still wondering. I wonder why he would presume that one person alone on a corner with a sign could stop a war. I wonder whether anyone ever joined him on that corner. And last, I wonder which war? We're fighting so many. The War in Iraq, The Global War on Terrorism, The War on Poverty, the list goes on (how many can YOU name?). Which "the War" was his sign about?

Between then and now, I got to thinking about what it truly will take to stop whatever war he was referring to. It will take a miracle. For us to stop fighting with other people, we must first stop fighting amongst ourselves, right? And to do that requires compromise and a shift of thinking from the "I'm right. You're wrong", different is bad mentality that is everywhere. It is wrapped up in education, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation... you name it. Divisiveness is everywhere and stopping any kind of war will require a massive "Global War on Narrow-mindedness" to overcome. But if we could win this war on divisiveness, we could win them all.

The divisiveness wrapped in religion is particularly disturbing. The God I know loves everyone. I mean everyone. I don't think he cares much whether you think Jesus is his son or his prophet. I think he loves you just as much if you follow Buddha, Vishnu, the Prophet Muhammed, or whichever path suits you. God even loves you if the church where you worship him on Sunday is Lambeau Field. The God I know doesn't hate Jews, homosexuals or anyone else for that matter and neither should you. If you believe in creationism, and I guess I'm on the fence, then you know he made us all. I believe he made us all different for a purpose. That purpose is wanting us to master the fine art of compromise. You and I are different. Fine. I don't hate you for it and you should not hate me. We need to agree where we can and let our points of disagreement become points of discussion to increase understanding. That - not giving up fish on friday or lecturing about whether Johnny can marry his boyfriend - is what being a God-Loving individual is all about. It is not about sitting proudly at the service of your choice on the appointed sabbath day. Hearing the word of your God and living the word of your God are two profoundly different things.

We are all created different. Yes, your mother never lied. You are unique and special - just like everyone else. Celebrate those differences!

The secret to ending wars is cultivating the ability to appreciate diversity not persecute it and sustain divisiveness. Understanding cultural diversity and creating conversations from the grassroots level to the highest levels of leadership - particularly religious, educational and political leaders to agree on what is important and overcome centuries of sectarian conflict. It is as age-old as Cain and Abel. Do you think that it is possible to resolve those differences?

What if we start small? Do you know your neighbor? Do you like them? Why? Why not? Is that really a valid reason? If you don't know your neighbor - get to know them. I am challenging myself with that for the next six months. Will you?

I'm also going to rediscover my faith. For many, many years I did not attend any type of church service. Did I turn my back on God? No. Not at all. For me it was more of a turning away from hypocrisy. Do not, my friend, sit in church next to your wife on Sunday morning nodding sagely to a sermon about the Ten Commandments when you were out with your girlfriend the night before. You, sir, are not Christian. Rediscovering my faith does not mean going back to church necessarily. I still think "Why cut down a tree to build a church when you can worship at the tree?" for the most part, but if there is a place where I can convene with like-minded folks, why not do it?

"Love one another as I have loved you" (forgive me but I cannot cite the specific verse) is my favorite passage from the bible. It's a key concept in conflict resolution. God loves everyone without exception. We should do the same. That love, genuinely felt and expressed, when it becomes a key piece of our everyday life, will go a long way toward stopping many of our current wars. What do you think? I think I will even be nice to Cowboys, Yankees and Nascar fans. It's baby steps that matter, right?


Tal said...

Lisa, do I really have to make friends with my neighbours? Maybe I'll try...they're not ALL Good post.

Gilshalos said...

Um.... I wouldn't go so far as to be nice to a Yankees fan. I mean, they did sell their soul...

Lisa said...

Well, I don't know that its necessary to "make friends" with Tal's neighbors or with Yankees fans, but don't hate, you know? Hating Yankees fans is too easy. Challenge yourself to try to be nice ;)