This week's prompt from Skittles' Heads or Tails Tuesday is Peace or Piece. I have chosen peace, though I am approaching it with a piece of poetry and two pieces of music.
So many ways to approach this subject. I don't understand war. I see no excuse for it. I don't understand violence. I don't think that meeting violence with violence solves anything. If people stopped insisting on being "right," and wanting all the power, we might have fewer deaths by violence in this world, fewer murders, fewer hate crimes, fewer Iraqs, fewer Darfurs, fewer terrorists and genocides. The idea that bombs work better than conversation is stunning to me. Bombs just kill people and increase fear and animosity. And they don't usually kill the right people (if there is such a thing as the right person to kill, which I don't actually think there is). Bombs and guns tend to kill children and women buying groceries; they tend to kill the innocent with at least as much frequency as the so-called "enemy."
One of my favorite poems ever is a poem by Wilfred Owens. I first read it during the time of the Vietnam War. It spoke to me then and it speaks to me now. It was written during World War I and it's author died young in that war. I may have posted it here before, but it is worth repeating. The last four lines of this poem speak a truth of such power... Even at it's noblest, war is obscene and ugly.
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori*.
*Translation: It is sweet and good to die for one's country.
Then there is music. I've always thought of Blowing in the Wind as a peace song, though it only partly about war. Of all the versions available, I liked this one because it is so straight-forward and pure. I have always loved Peter Paul and Mary. About 25 years ago, before I started hiding from the world full time, I sang in the annual Christmas concert that Peter Paul and Mary put on at Carnegie Hall with the New York Choral Society every year. Alas, I was running a raging fever during the performance and missed the party afterwards, but it was still an awesome experience to sing in that place and with this trio. Ultimately, I think peace is about more than non-violence. It's about the things this song talks about. Real peace will some when we truly care about one another with compassion in our hearts and when we reach out to comfort the pain of every other being on the planet.
and then there's
Let There Be Peace On Earth
performed by the Tyler College Choir... don't know much about them, but of all the versions available on You-Tube, this was the one that seemed most willing to let the song speak for itself.