This is the first time for many years that Jeff has spent the whole month of December at home in the UK. So we are enjoying together the energy of Christmas, the buildup of anticipation, the thoughts of family and friends, of celebration, of mad shopping and festive pubs; this time of giving, of generosity and all the joy that brings as we look forward to spending this precious week with our children and their loved ones in London.
And all this forms a backdrop to acts of almost unbelievable brutality and atrocity carried out in the name of God around the world. This year the UK remembered the Great War now 100 years ago, but we are also pulling out of Afghanistan after 13 years of war and there are even reports that soldiers will be returning to Iraq. It seems we are still blind to the effects of war in any form: how much loss is passed from one side to the other, the feelings of powerlessness, and the daily brutality that is so destructive to the human spirit.
What level of pain must someone be in to walk into a school and massacre hundreds of children? How brutalized and desensitized must they be to act this way and believe this act will do anything more than add to the cycle of violence and atrocity? As this is going on in my world the question I ask myself is what am I being asked to learn, or to heal, that would end this so that the total futility of war could be learned? Never would our children or their children hear such phrases as ‘shock and awe’ to describe an act of war.
For us the answer is compassion. We have spent the last days musing on the true sense of this word and how, if we reached the awareness of compassion, it would be our ‘shock and awe’; fully opening to that much love beyond our denial or desensitization or hatred/self-hatred would certainly justify those words. Now is the time for us to practice this greatest of gifts, to embrace a truly compassionate heart that seems to be what is called for to reach the hearts of others who are in so much pain.
We do not accept the human condition is to suffer in this way, to adjust to it, hide it in denial and then when triggered to reap retribution on our fellow men; instead it is to learn the lessons of compassion, that our hearts would be strong enough and we would be fearless enough to wade into that pain and bring the love and compassion to the places inside of us that we have brutalized, the children inside us who have not survived, who have been part of the loss of wars. Only then will we be able to start breaking the cycle of hatred and violence as we remember this world has been set up for our learning.
Have a very loving and joyful Christmas and a brilliant New Year.
Jeff and Sue