Like everyone else, I am disturbed by the tragic news that is so frequently reported from the media. I am saddened by the discourse among people who disagree because there such a lack of respect for one another. At times it feels like everything is falling apart around us and my gut clenches. Where will this all end?
When this is my response to the most recent news report, I know it is time for my own inner reflection. It is time to remember other times in my life when I felt like that world was falling apart and I could see no way out.
I remember the fear we felt during the Cold War. The nuclear build-up was enormous and from childhood to young adulthood, I wondered if we could ever avoid annihilation. Then, to the world’s amazement, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union fell apart. Nuclear weapons were dismantled and fear lessened.
I also remember well the painful chaos of the sixties with assassinations and violent protests. I wondered then if the fight for civil rights for African Americans could ever be won. I wondered when we could get out of the war that destroyed so many of our soldiers as well as the Vietnamese. Would we continue to see our national leaders assassinated? Eventually the mood of the country settled when we withdrew from Vietnam and civil rights legislation was passed.
When I reflect on the destructive attacks by ISIS, I feel like we have been here before. When I observe the painful race relations demonstrated by the killing of police and of young black men, I know this is not without precedent.
As an “elder-in-training,” I believe it is my obligation to share the wisdom that comes from decades of life experience. My belief is that we need not give up in despair. We have weathered equally difficult periods of history. Personally, I see the truth of the old adage, “Violence begets violence.” None of the conflicts described above were settled by violence but rather by engagement. Our hope for today is to find a way to help all parties to recognize the humanity of one another.
It is for each of us in the Third Chapter of life to determine how we can best contribute our wisdom to a solution that will bring us into a more peaceful era. According to the Hopi Tribe, “When the grandmothers speak, the world will be healed.” It is time for the grandmothers to speak.