“But Mom, she started it!” ” I don’t care who started it, I’m finishing it!” So went the recollection of my sister Betty, remembering childhood sibling rivalries and her dismay that mom wouldn’t let her explain why she was right. She said it wasn’t until she had kids of her own that she understood. The sound of two little kids arguing incessantly would drive her crazy and she realized mom was wise to “end it.”

Imagine how having a different perspective can change your mind. Too often we get wrapped up in our own thoughts, our own assumptions, our own biases, that we fail to realize that we may be missing pieces of the picture. We see conflict as a in or lose, heroes and villains, black and white with no shades of gray. We want to stick up for our ‘friends’ oppose our ‘enemies’  and get everyone to take sides since we are convinced ‘diplomacy’ won’t do any good.  

We are seeking quick and tidy solutions to messy conflicts that have existed and festered for decades if not hundreds of years.  In our shortsighted views and we all back differing sides and seek ‘victory’ and ‘justice’, the only things that are thriving are the morgues and graveyards. While the debates go on about who is right and who is wrong, death and disease inhabit the cities and villages. Men, women, and children suffer death from weapons in the sky and on the earth. Hospitals, homes, schools, and even places of worship are no refuge. Many have to flee their homes to foreign lands and even there, discrimination and abuse follow them.

Isn’t it time to echo my mom’s words “I don’t care who started it”? Isn’t it time to call for a time out so that we can listen to everyone and start building bridges that can bring us together and quit building walls that only divide us? Can we set aside our blaming, biases, and backgrounds in order to consider that we might not know it all?

I know that most of us have no ability to alter the outcomes of world conflict, except to petition our representatives. But I believe that our influence in the world starts right in our backyards. If we can promote peace where we are, perhaps that effort may serve to affect ever-widening spheres of community, just as a stone dropped into a pond sends ripples out in all directions.
It begins with you and it begins with me, and it starts right where we are. In times of conflict let us take a time out, speak up and say “I don’t care who started it…”

Photo by Prostock Studio