I’m still focusing on the theme of St Valentine’s Day and opening our hearts to all sentient beings on Mother Earth, including the planet which supports and nurtures us.
At the beginning of last week I saw a speech by Sarah Palin, ex-Governor of Alaska, in which she advocated that President Obama could win re-election by going to war with Iran.
This came just before the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from the Robin Island Prison in South Africa.
I couldn’t help but contrast the two approaches – one that to win votes and get elected to high office, you need to wage war. Margaret Thatcher resorted to war with Argentina when her popularity was dropping. I wonder whether those burned to death terribly on the Galahad when the ship was bombed by the Argentinians or those who drowned when the Argentine ship, Belgrano, was sunk by the British would support war for a Prime Minister’s re-election?
I remember watching the start of the second Iraq War, and all the comments of “shock and awe”, and I turned off the television in disgust. Watching the bombs rain down on Iraq, I couldn’t help but think that we were no better than the Romans who used to watch battles between lions and gladiators in the great amphitheatres. Only in our world today, our front rooms form a global amphitheatre as we watch the spectacle of war on our television sets. And, because it’s so detached, we forget the children, women, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, the handicapped, the poor, the lonely and other people who cower beneath this onslaught in fear and terror. Would we advocate war in our own backyards where “shock and awe” would actually affect us? The reality of modern warfare today is that it is civilians who suffer the most and are the innocent victims of war waged by high-tech weaponry. I don’t think I’ve heard of many soldiers who fought in wars who still advocate war. Most say there must be better solutions and peace is a far better course, that never again should we engage in armed conflict.
I remember watching TV footage on the news in the UK of US marines searching a house and a child cowering against the wall. You could actually hear her teeth chattering with fear. Then I watched US soldiers carrying out a young soldier, badly wounded, also with fear etched across his face and I felt such pity and sorrow for this young lad and for his family far away in the US. In war there are no winners, only losers, because we lose our humanity.
Think of the billions which countries like the US, Australia, Europe, China, Middle East and others around the world pour into weaponry and war. Think of what a wonderful world we could have if all those billions of dollars went on jobs, schools, education, health, the provision of cheap essential services and supply of affordable food. What a different world we’d live in!
And so I contrasted Ms Palin’s comments with the actions of Nelson Mandela in prison and when he was released. In prison he treated all the warders with respect and compassion, regardless of how brutal they were. One of his guards remains a good friend today and helped Mandela while he was in prison. When he was released, Mandela advocated forgiveness and bringing the great family of South Africa together as the Rainbow Nation. For sure, it’s not a straight course and progress is slow. But how much more powerful is it to call for love, compassion and tolerance for all in our heart, rather than bring ourselves down with bitterness, hate and brutality.
In this day and age we are being called to dismantle the barriers which have been erected to divide people of different nations. We are all the same under the skin and regardless of our different cultures, skin colour, sexuality or ability. The impetus in this day and age and leading into the future is for the Rainbow World to be created and for us to step forward and embrace love as we forge a future of unity rather than division.
Nelson Mandela is regarded with huge respect, love and admiration around the world. He has shown the power of forgiveness, love for your enemies, and compassion and tolerance. He is a demonstration of the power of love and, on this St Valentine’s Day, I would like to pay homage to love, the most powerful energy in the Universe. Hate drags us down. Love lifts us up.