I woke up this morning, as we all did, to the news of Russia invading Ukraine. The looming invasion had been building, and even though I should not have been surprised, I was. Shocked actually. As I read the various news agency's reports of the unfolding conflict, tears streamed down my face with a will of their own. I looked out the window from my bedroom, the quiet woods surrounding me, and then back to the phone screen. Different realities on one level, shared realities on another.
I thought about the relative peace that I have grown up with and enjoyed in my life, as have many others. I thought about my grandparents, some of whom fled Eastern Europe during World War II. Their generation is a dwindling group of people who experienced a time in history that was marked by a world war. Only one grandparent is still alive today.
The cost of war is immeasurable and lasting. That we as a species still resort to such violence against one another is beyond stupefying. My dad used to repeat a phrase that his dad would say to him: "if there is no peace between brothers and sisters, how can there be peace in the world?"
My interpretation of my late grandfathers' words is that world peace starts at home. This is no small feat. It is an immense task that each person is faced with every day.
It brings into question the extent to which one holds a value of non-harming/non-violence as an essential part of ones' core beliefs. We, human to human, may not always be in agreement on everything. So, are we able to truly co-exist with our shared differences? That is the big question that I believe faces each of us every day.
I believe it also means that we are tasked with seeing one another as deeply as possible. It is a profound gift we give to each other when we can look past our human imperfections and love the soul within. There is no doubt that we are interconnected and interdependent, yet it is easy to forget - a daily challenge.
Growth can be painful, and throughout human history, there has been great suffering and loss. And on the other side of that, it too must be remembered, is the experience of beauty and joy.
For myself, the best I can do today is to hold in my mind a vision of a world in which all beings dwell in the great ocean of peace.