Archive for the ‘history’ Tag

Allegory for Peace

Listening to the news, reading news accounts online, hearing of events in conversation, in whatever way it comes to me, the news never fails to distress and unnerve me. I don’t see any good that comes from following it. Yet, it is necessary to be aware, at least generally, of what is happening in the world. As Veteran’s Day approaches in the US and stories abound of heroism and sacrifice, juxtaposed with news accounts of aggression, incursion, and death, my mind and sensibilities are unsettled.

My family is full of military heritage and patriots. My personal experience of late full of struggle for equality and authenticity. And the world continues to evolve, revolve and devolve by turns with respect to individual and communal quests for peace and equality. It’s all such a jumble. And, as is sometimes the case when my mind is swimming in stress and unresolvable puzzles, my mind creates in order to make sense of what is impacting on it at the time.

Imperfect, rough and unedited, the following clawed itself out of my brain after viewing a particularly unnerving documentary about soldiers returned from war and the art they created to express their experiences. Their art was both beautiful and raw, evocative and frightening. This bit of verse is none of that, but does serve to siphon some of the nervous energy that seeing their art created in me.

An Allegory of Peace

In everwood
Beyond the sunset
And under the shadow
Of the forever tree
Lived a simple soul
Still and quiet when at rest
Yet full of vigor and passion
For life and love and the beauty
Of the human heart
Peace, a fitting name for such a one
Crowned in equity
Cloaked in justice
Shod in freedom
The might and nobility
Gravitas and grace
Of Peace was coveted by all
Yet Peace was hard won
Elusive, Peace could only be reached
Through paths often perilous
Winding from fields of honor
And courts both lawful and profane
Uphill to plateaus of logic and peaks of erudition
Down slippery slopes of expediency and compromise
Over narrow bridges spanning chasms of ideology
Teetering on the precipice over abysses of war and pain
From age to age
Seekers of Peace carried many bags of motive
Some filled with hope and reason
Some dark and heavy with vengeance
Others light, full of optimism and faith
Many bristling with weapons of fearful hate
Their journeys fraught with doubt and danger
Peace seekers seldom emerged
From such treacherous paths unscathed
Some who sought Peace’s repose
Who braved the treacherous paths
Who gained and lost ground in the fight
Often fell within sight of Peace
Yet theirs was not a vain struggle
Nor their sacrifices empty
For the trails of their labors
Paved wider roads to Peace
Others survived the journey
Each one with a story
A parable of warning
Or a song of triumph
But each with a scar, a badge of sorts
A testament to the hunt
A few who succeeded in their quest
Lived for a time in that fair land
Enjoying the fruits of Peace’s reign
Even in small ways not always recorded for posterity
Staying in that cool and quiet glade
Singing their ballads and hymns of praise
Awash in the glory of Peace
Others who lost their way in the hunt
Battered and torn by brambles of strife
Bruised and weary of the climb
Stopped searching and settled
In a rocky valley of limbo
Where all paths circulate in endless
Rings of repetition hedged in stubbornness
Passing by highways to equality
Snubbing pathways of logic
Rejecting gateways to common ground
Those that dwelt in this desolate place
Roiled and seethed with bitterness
Resenting the gains that
Seekers on paths beyond the hedgerows
Seemed to make against the mountain of evolving ideology
Angry at the erosion of their historical stronghold
These by-dwellers in the valley of stony resistance
Struck out against the Peace seekers on the outside paths
Cycle after cycle of struggle and strife
Wars both physical and ideological
Raged in varying degrees constantly
All in the name and pursuit of Peace
But the progeny of the Peace seekers
Who rested in the reflected glow of Peace
Heard the sound of ongoing strife
Heard echoing cries for the bounty of Peace: equally, freedom, choice, self-determination
These beneficiaries of prior struggles
Answered the call
Poppies and ribbons, crosses and flags
Symbols of the causes of their forebears
“Lest we forget”, “Never forget”, their refrain
No longer at rest, never truly in repose
Seekers of Peace know
That the struggle goes on
In small ways and large
Over all the world
In ways sometimes unseen and unacknowledged
Yet ongoing
At home and abroad
With reason and diplomacy
Through logic and law
From heart to soul
Respect to respect
Until every warrior returns home
Until all are equal under law
Until every seeker finds Peace

Words of Equality

The fight for equality among LGBTQI peoples in the US has gained significant momentum in recent years, particularly in the last 12 months with respect to marriage equality. In the last two days we’ve come even further with federal district court rulings in Oregon and Pennsylvania declaring marriage laws in those states (defining marriage so as to exclude same-sex unions) as unconstitutional.

These are the thirteenth and fourteenth such wins in a row, I believe, making OR and PA the 18th and 19th states, respectively, to recognize same-sex marriage. So, not new or unique, thankfully. But I still find the decisions thrilling on many levels.

First, the weight of two more decisions, two more states, to the body of law and sanity can only be good news. The more states and nations that get on the right side of history, the easier it will be for oppressed and devalued peoples of every ilk everywhere to break free and gain their rightful equality.

Secondly, I’m excited to see love validated, regardless of the fears some harbor against what they perceive as different or other. Love is love is love…and it is legal in more places today to solemnize that love in marriage. Hallelujah!

But even in the midst of all these lofty social and ideological benefits, I am equally (heh) stoked, on a professional & word-geekery level. Reading the two latest court opinions stirs my internal word-nerd and excites the slumbering constitutional fan-butch inside me.

The prose these judges have used to convey their rulings and explain their rationale is so much more than dry legalese and incomprehensible chain citations. These judges have taken the time to illuminate their rationale and precedential commentary with words that convey the weighty burden they bear in the midst of a sea-change in American jurisprudence. Their voices in these written opinions clearly articulate the feeling and power of these judges’ convictions that they are delivering decisions on the right side of history and constitutional interpretation.

Here are the concluding sentences of each of the PA and OR opinions. If you read them aloud to yourself as I did, you can hear the ring of certainty in the truth and rightness and justice of these rulings in every word:

“In the sixty years since [Brown v. Board of Education] was decided, “separate” has thankfully faded into history, and only “equal” remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex-marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” John E. Jones III, U. S. District Court Judge, wrote in the conclusion of his opinion today declaring the Pennsylvania marriage laws unconstitutional.

This, after yesterday’s opinion by U. S. District Court Judge Michael McShane did the same thing to Oregon’s marriage laws. Judge McShane’s conclusion was perhaps a shade more lyrical and no less inspiring: “Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other…and rise.”

I’m so happy to be witnessing this evolution of civil rights in this country. It gives me hope that one day soon there will be no impediment to my marriage to my Special Femme, or to anyone’s marriage to their chosen love, regardless of their geographic residence.

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