I will fight no more forever

“I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever,” said Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904) of the Nez Perce Indians in 1877 after he and about 700 members of his tribe travelled 1,500 miles in an attempt to escape the pursuing United States Army and take refuge in Canada.

Chief_Joseph-1877
Chief Joseph – 1877

The words, I will fight no more forever, mean a great deal to me. They reflect how I feel about life in general, particularly when it comes to my private life. I think most understand there is a big difference between fighting and arguing different views and opinions.

I hate fighting.  It’s violent and I am sick to death of violence, in any form.   Other than protecting my life, or the life and safety of another (this includes animals, folks), I see no healthy reason for physical and emotional violence.

Fighting wounds. It damages. It’s scary. It’s sad. It causes pain which is exactly what it supposed to do, because it’s fighting – because it’s violence.  Fighting makes healing and understanding impossible because it prevents healthy communication. Also, fighting takes no talent.

This is not a long missive. It doesn’t need to be.  To quote Chief Joseph: “It does not require many words to speak the truth.”

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Getting comfortable

What is it I am home about? He asked this out loud in his kitchen as he poured his second cup of morning coffee. He could not focus. He knew this and wished it wasn’t so. He knew wishing warranted genuine sympathy and had about as much influence over life as a tree stump.

These days he felt himself to be a scramble of movements, tics, of a sort. Not a tic like some sudden facial flinch, but a shifting of the shoulders, a turn of the head, a stretch of the neck, a shift in sitting position. A restlesness coated in the sizzle of terror. Sometimes he’d notice himself walking back and forth from one room to another, a small trip in a small apartment, talking to his dog, a damn fine listener by any measure.

Movement. That was the thing. Move. Stay in motion. This is not an easy task when a lot of the world scares the bejeezus out of you. Movement, he was sure, was key to feeling better and, if he got really lucky, happy, on occasion. 

Getting comfortable in life was a never ending process.

PEACE

It is no coincidence that the majority of Christmas cards I’ve had the pleasure to retrieve from my mailbox this year have the word peace on them. In many respects, the word, peace, is my favorite word in the language. Not for its sound, mind you. I think the word Tuckahoe may be one of my favorites when it comes to a word’s audio reality.


With my country at war on two fronts, it makes sense peace is on the minds of many, in and out of my country.


Peace, real peace, comes in many forms. The human mind and body, relaxed and at ease. A society built on understanding and acceptance rather than judgment and harsh discipline. There is the peace that comes with the alleviation of hunger and suffering. There is the spiritual peace one feels when experiencing a sunrise or sunset. There is the peace one feels when holding hands with a loved one. There is something gentle and exquisite about hand holding. While I don’t think I’ve been as good at it as I would like to be, the wonder of it is not lost on me.


Then too there is something Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” It dawned on me, when I read that sentence of King’s, that there cannot be peace where there is injustice.


There is also the cautionary note sounded by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Self Reliance. “A political victory, a rise in rents, the recovery of your sick, or return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” While I am not sure that I entirely agree with him, I do agree that no one but you can bring you peace. It is in how you respond to and relate with the events in life, not so much the events themselves. Okay, maybe I do agree with Mr. Emerson. More thought required here.


I know that for me and quite a few others I know, this has been a brutal year. I have had been stabbed in the back by a nice array of slimy types, one or two so steeped in their own arrogance they don’t think I know it’s them that did the deed, and still others so oblivious to the fact their fellow human beings have feelings they are, I sadly suspect, beyond repair or redemption. Thankfully the repair and redemption parts are not for me to determine. Do I forgive them? Yes, of course I do. But do not for a moment think that forgiving them means I do not think they should be held accountable. They should be and they will be. Remember what King said about the presence of justice.

When I talked quite some time ago to Brother Gregory, a wonderful friend of mine, about my anger and hurt at being betrayed by some I trusted, he instantly right-sized me by saying, “Peter, people betrayed Jesus. What makes you think they won’t betray you?”


This has been a rather wandering and poorly written piece, and for that I apologize. I can attribute it to my still fighting off a fever but I think that would be a tad disingenuous on my part.


Here is what I can say, to all of you, including those that done me wrong,who read this blog. I do hope the day comes when peace, true peace, is your constant companion.



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