Voboril: When your ire rises, picture a baby snuggled tight in her crib and choose a response that soothes (column)
The screen flickers briefly as I take the first look into Elise’s bright, innocent eyes, her newborn pate showing the first whispers of hair that will one day be thick and elegant. Like her namesake, my grandmother, she was born in Brussels and, for the moment, I am pained that both Elises remain out of my grasp, only visions that dance in my head.
I will soon see the younger iteration, rub her tiny belly and luxuriate in the freshness of her entry into this world. As for Grandma, it will be some time before I am reunited with her, a sorrow lightened by the traces I feel of her. My new niece completes a circle of loss and rebirth that is bolstered because she shares a birthday with my sweet, departed mother-in-law, whose absence still shatters me when I give myself room to feel it.
On this day in which we celebrate a very famous birth, I reflect on a message of peace that should make sense to anyone who has ever held a newborn or experienced the cataclysm of death. Essentially, everyone.
Alas, how our memories are so short. We spurn peace, argue with our kin, shake fists at strangers, make bellicose boasts about missiles and fighter jets, ramp up small disputes into ones that may be world-altering. There are few gentle souls among us, their saintliness made all the more stark by the raving machinations of the larger populace. We create and/or tolerate the creation of horrific weaponry, instruments that brothers turn on sisters over the slightest perceived transgressions.
And I speak not only of foreign wars, conflicts where the shield of dissonance allows us to pretend that we are somehow more civilized. We may not all level guns at one another, but we engage in socioeconomic warfare that is no less destructive and inhuman.
We marvel at the fragility of life, we wrench our hearts when we lose those whom we love, and yet we do nothing to create the right conditions for peaceful existence. We are failing to live up to the promises of the better world that we promise our infants; we are failing to internalize the lessons of the prophets and oracles that foretold a better way.
Today’s pervading ethos concludes that affairs are so bad that there is no hope of their repair. Humankind has been emotionally and physically violent throughout its existence, so it is easier to believe that we are doomed to remain on that continuum. That is hogwash and a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we listen to the fear-mongers, to those who benefit from confusion, bloodshed and conflict, then we get what we deserve.
We must turn our ears and eyes to those that spread the promise of peace. They may be preachers, pastors, rabbis, shamans, muftis, bike coaches, your neighbor Bob. The source is immaterial; it is the story of love, harmony and openness that carries the true power.
Protecting Elise and my daughter and my family does not mean buying into the fallacy of arming myself against theoretical threats. It means creating an environment where peace can flourish, where people are not rewarded for greed, hatred or atrocities.
The next time that your ire rises, picture the tiniest little baby snuggled tight in her crib. Then, choose the response that soothes and does not scare the child. The most intractable issues seem less daunting when viewed from the right perspective.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Alpenglow Law LLC, a local law firm, and the owner-mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.alpenglowlaw.com.
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