Are the Peacemakers
April 25, 2002
By Marie Jones
How do you raise a boy to know peace in a world that increasingly
embraces war? How do you nurture a peacemaker when all around
you, men are choosing to kill, destroy, lie, cheat and steal
in the name of religion, greed, political beliefs, or just
sheer nationalistic arrogance? I wondered that as I watched
my sweet little 12-month-old baby boy, Max, sleeping next
to me, as only a few miles away, the blast of bombs could
be heard from military exercises at a nearby testing range.
As Max lay there beside me lost in baby boy dreams, his long
eyelashes brushing against soft pink cheeks, the house began
to reverberate from the blasts of bomb tests going on just
a few miles to the north of our San Marcos, California home.
Marines at Camp Pendleton were once again learning the fine
art of war, and according to the local news, the blasts would
continue through out the week.
It was not something new, these tests, but with recent events,
something that I had usually laughed off as "little boys playing
war games" now took on a much more serious tone. This wasn't
a game. These were grown men (and women, yes, but mostly men)
spending their entire lives immersed in the science and artistry
of killing other human beings, and getting paid for it.
It was one of those things like the concept of infinity or
how big the universe is, where if you thought about it long
enough it would make you crazy.
Outside I could hear the shouts of neighborhood children
playing basketball, and adults chattering around the mailboxes,
catching up on the latest gossip. It was the picture of normalcy,
a friendly cul-de-sac where just about everybody knew each
other by name and everyone had been in everyone else's house.
Every now and then, another bomb went off, an unpleasant reminder
that amidst that happy illusion, the spectre of war was never
too far off, hovering on the perimeters like a potential pedophile
standing outside an elementary school gate, making all those
within the school grounds just a little bit nervous, but not
willing to talk too much about it.
As I snuggled up against Max, I wondered how it was possible
that something so small and needy and adorable could grow
up to one day to go off and willingly kill other human beings,
all in the name of "country" or "patriotism, or worst of all,
"God." How could this innocent child, who would spend the
next few years thinking only the best of people, one day find
it hard not to think the worst of them?
I thought about the older boys outside playing in the street,
and wondered if they had already entered that stage of development
where violence took on the desirable glow once held by blocks
and crib toys and stuffed animals. Had they crossed over yet,
to the land of kill-em-all video games and fistfights?
I wondered how many years I would have this little boy to
myself, before the world began to tempt him with dark promises
of money, greed, power, intolerance and division. He was a
blank canvas, and I knew in my heart that I would be only
one of many artists who would try to imprint my vision upon
him before he came into his own selfhood.
I believe in both the nature and nurture theories. I've read
the books. I've seen the experts on the TV talk shows. I've
examined the research. I know that men have more aggressive
thoughts and actions because of testosterone and all that
physiological stuff about the brain differences between genders
and how men tend to express anger and fear in a more outward
manner than women, yadda, yadda, yadda.
But I also believe that love conquers all things, even violent
tendencies. I know that there are "bad people" out there who
want to hurt others, people who want to kill and make war
and commit acts of violence for monetary gain or nationalistic
pride or religious fanaticism or just plain power. I watch
the news. I read the papers. I'm neither blind nor stupid.
But I also believe that peace is a much better choice than
war. Always. And that there is indeed enough to go around,
and that we really can get along if we just live and let live.
If every parent was committed to teaching their children
peace, we might just a few generations from now see an end
to all wars. Pollyanna, yes. Optimist, yes, I've been called
those things and more, but the idea that hatred is taught
is not something I made up. Children are not born bigots and
killers. Somebody has to teach them how to hate. Now, the
challenge is, how do we learn to unteach it?
My husband and I are committed to raising Max to love and
respect others, but we know we will be outnumbered once he
goes off to his first year at school. However, the experts
tell us that parents do indeed have the most impact upon their
children, not celebrities, athletes or thank God, politicians.
So maybe, just maybe, Max will grow up to live in a world
without wars, without bombs, without hatred. Maybe not. But
either way he will know exactly what he can do to make the
world a better place. He will spread peace.
Marie Jones is an ordained New Thought Minister and widely
published writer. She and her husband also produce children's