Monday, March 29, 2010

Hitchhiking for Peace

Normally I'm not driving down Jefferson street on a Saturday morning, so perhaps that's why I've never seen her before, but there she was, a woman somewhere around her mid-50s standing near the curb with her thumb out. I slowed and stopped and she climbed in, I asked if she had missed a bus and where she was headed. Her answer was not something I was expecting to hear:

"I'm a hitchhiker for peace".

She told me that she started hitchhiking after 9/11, and that her mission was to spread the idea that war solves nothing and that we all need to embrace and embody peacefulness in our words and our actions. That was it, five minutes later I let her out downtown. Her words stayed with me throughout the day, her words and the fact that she took the time to share them in such an interesting way.

This morning with my cup of tea and my eggs, I read this passage from the book God Sleeps in Rwanda:

"As I stood there with [my wife] in my arms, I did not know what the future held...I did not fully understand the havoc that war wreaks on communities. Yes, war kills--I knew that--but that is only part of its destructive path. War makes widows and orphans. War cuts off arms and legs and rips emotional wounds that never fully heal. War drives people from their homes--in this case hundreds of thousands--and dooms them to lives of poverty and displacement. John F. Kennedy once said, "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.". As I held Liberata in the gas station, I did not yet know what this meant.

One knows how war begins, but no one knows how it will end. Countries rush to war thinking it is the quickest, easiest solution to conflict, only to find themselves still entrenched years later, suffering more losses than they expected and asking themselves, bewildered, "How did we get here?" There is no "winning" a war.

From the hitchhiker to me to you: what can we do for peace today?

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