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Blessed 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 videos.

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