Chocolate Army Bear and Uncle Sam

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November 12, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker

Me:  I am not having surgery on my knees.

Gary:  Okay.

Me:  I know you surgeon people always default to surgical options, but I am not having surgery on my knees.

Gary:  Okay.

Me:  On CBC it said that there are other options when they say you need knee surgery.

Gary:  Nobody is saying you need knee surgery.

Me:  I know, but they will.  There are bad knees all through my family, and mine started hurting when I was in my early twenties.  But when my knees get bad, I am going to refuse knee surgery.  I am determined not to give up my biological knees.

Gary:  You know those high heeled boots you love to wear?

Me:  I am determined not to give up those either.

Gary:  Ah.  You know those exercises that your family doctor showed you how to do?

Me:  Aren’t you supposed to default to the surgery option?

Everyone’s full of ideas.  Anthony offered to let me cuddle his new stuffy, which is alternative therapy if I’ve ever heard it.  “Chocolate Army Bear” is 100% camouflage patterned, decked out in full uniform, and smells like Chocolate.

Me:  Why did you choose an army bear?

Eric:  Mom, did you know that we are in a war?

Right.  Remembrance Day at school.

When I was Eric’s age, I thought the slogan for Remembrance day was “Never Again” not “We Remember”.  Then the push for pacifism was strong — and justifiably so.  We were told stories of concentration camps and chlorine gas.  The gentler adults told us stories of rationing and women working in factories all day.  Older people reminiscing always identified chunks of time as “during the war” — with the war being a shared, looming creature that dominated all parts of life.  I assumed that war — if it came again during my lifetime — would change everything about my life.  I assumed that my role would be to stand steadfastly for peace, so that the concentration camps and chlorine gas would never return.  On Remembrance Day, I always wore a poppy, I always stood for the minute of silence — and I always wore my red button that said “To Remember is to Work for Peace”.  I felt deeply grateful to those who fought, a little guilty, and determined to do my part to oppose all war.

Turns out working for peace doesn’t simply mean refusing to go to war.  For one thing, from Canada’s perspective, war was not the source of the concentration camps, it was the means of ending them.  For another thing, when the time came to decide whether to become involved in Afghanistan, nobody actually asked my opinion.  Which is a good thing, because I am not — as you may have surmised — a particularly talented military decision maker.  Working for peace, for me, isn’t as simple as only standing against war.

Refusing war is as insufficient as a peace strategy as refusing surgery is insufficient as a knee health strategy.  Maybe it’s the years of parenting, but “quit fighting” has lost its lustre as a motto for peaceful relationships.  It’s been replaced by teaching alternatives, establishing zero-tolerance of power games, and teaching kids about the importance of nurturing caring in their relationships.  This has resulted in more than one instance an angry, tearful child shouting “What you are doing right now is DESTROYING THE LOVE-BALANCE!!!” (The “love balance” is the balance of the theoretical account where love is stored — and they point out to one another in no uncertain terms when the balance is diminished or built up).

I don’t know if this stuff translates to a global scale, but it gives me something to work on when the minute of silence draws to a close.  It gives me something to discuss with the kids other than horror stories of war, and a way to translate “Never Again” into something more complex than an unthinking condemnation of all fighting.

“How do we create a world where people have better alternatives than terrorism?”  “How do we understand the perspective of someone very different from us?” “How do we set limits with people who aren’t using fair ways to get what they want?” or even “How do we protect ourselves from being on a planet that can’t support us all, and having to fight one another to live?”  I like these questions because they translate into action — making a Kiva loan, being part of global Secret Santa, writing letters, or even turning off lights.

Just as the war effort reached into every corner of the country — with moms heading to factories and little old ladies knitting in their living rooms — the foundations for a peaceful future are laid everywhere.

Uncle Sam needs you.

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