I am told that everyone at some point will experience peace, but in what context? It isn’t simply a hand gesture flashed in passing by some young hippie wannabe, or a sign drawn on a park wall, or the faded letters of an old bumper sticker telling me to give it a chance. What is it, what does it look like and do we all deserve it?
I believe that we all ought to experience resolve and serenity, I also believe peace is subjective and that most people have no idea what they claim to be wishing for when they proclaim it. I think maybe they want everyone to just get along but that’s just a slight breeze carried by a sauntering wind. It has never been experienced on a global level nor will it. We as a people would have to be void of conflict, but that would mean we would all be apathetic.
No one can be at peace with themselves in true fashion, we are beings of conflict, with our own emotions, our own subconscious and within the world around us, and we want something but are told by others we should want something else. We came into the world in conflict, our lungs struggling to breathe, our minds trying to make sense of it and we will all go out that same way.
My mother was, is a hippie, I was born prior to the original Woodstock concert and went to it with my mother as a small child, she ran away from my father leaving my younger sister behind. We wandered around the East coast, and then travelled to California before making our way back to Minnesota at some point, well, my mother made it back, dropped me off on a foster farm somewhere in Maryland on her way.
I believed so strongly in peace, and that everyone deserved it whatever it meant, whatever it was I wanted it. I grew up with relatives and on abusive foster farms, and wondering where I belonged, eventually I ended up sleeping under bridges to escape an abusive step father. I saw things around the world as volatile, it appeared that the world was falling apart; I was falling apart and had no structure to hang onto. So I joined the Army, I decided that if I could do one thing it would be to give someone else some peace, some rest, some safety, then maybe I would deserve it.
I saw things overseas that made me ill, I was part of a force that was sent into conflict to protect those whom could not protect themselves. That’s what being a soldier is all about, freedom and peace do not come free, there is, has and always will be conflict, and there will always be those whom cannot be a party to fighting others in hopes of bringing some resolve, some peace to the world. And there are those who are willing to sacrifice their own lives for it, for them. Neither one is better than the other, but both are absolutely necessary.
And in the end there is always a price to pay, that price for a soldier is emotional serenity, innocence, peace. Anyone who has a grandparent or parent who grew up in the forties and fifties can see that loss in their grandparent’s eyes, in the wounds on the inner side of their wrists, in the far off gaze grandpa has during those family reunions. Today you can see it in the hardened, cold stare from the young men and women who’ve made that trip to the edge and brought a piece of it back with them, locked somewhere deep inside that dark place they keep it. Maybe there is a day after all that they will experience peace, maybe that day will come like a stranger in the shadows at night, maybe then they will all be able to cash it in for a seat on that train. Maybe then they can rest in peace.