Tomorrow is “Veterans Day”, a holiday that honors every veteran who has served in any branch of the United States of America Armed Forces. Without people who make the sacrifices involved in “protecting and honoring” our reality would be very different.
Tomorrow, November 11th, also marks thirteen years and two months since “911”. September 11, 2001, changed the way many of us view our world. The shock and fear were palpable, many of us were unable to even comprehend the scope of this catastrophe. It wasn’t as if we didn’t KNOW about all the violence and devastation in our world. It wasn’t as if many didn’t have first-hand experience with tragedy caused by war. And, sadly, it wasn’t as if many people didn’t live in violence in our own country. What made it different was that as a nation we felt immediate and foreboding danger. Our great country has had so very many casualties of war.
We can sign petitions for peace.
We can march for peace.
We can chant for peace.
We can sing for peace.
We can join groups that work toward peace.
We can pray for peace.
We can also start at home, IN our own homes, to create peace.
For the past few days many of us have talked about, and mourned, the murder of an innocent three-year-old boy named Scotty McMillan. I do not (thank God) have the capacity to even begin to understand what’s going on in the mind of someone who could even imagine harming a child. This precious little child (and sadly so many like him) was a “casualty of home”.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a woman about the childhood experiences that shaped who she is as an adult. She had grown up in what we would label a “dysfunctional home” (although how many homes truly function in ways that only produce positive outcomes?). Her father had been mostly absent and when she did see him- every other weekend for a night- he was absent as well. She’d spend the majority of her “visit” plugged into the TV. As she grew up the relationship was tenuous. Sometimes, he would want her in his life, then for years he’d be absent again, back and forth, back and forth, and ALWAYS under his conditions of engagement. Of course, that changed who she was and how she loved. As a grown woman, it’s challenging for her to completely trust her love to ANY man. She is a “casualty of home”.
There’s the man whose wife left him when their three children were young. In spite of her devout, church-going, “holy” persona, she simply left the marriage. This man, contrary to the father in the previous story, did everything he could to remain a strong, engaged, supportive parent. Sadly, the mother slowly turned his daughter against him. At the daughter’s wedding he was simply a guest, at a table in the back, in tears. After many decades, this spiritual, loving, kind man is still unmarried. He is a “casualty of home”.
I know a mother who was afraid of her spouse. She was in an emotionally abusive relationship. To the outside world, it looked like she “had it all”; a cute home, beautiful children, friends, loving parents. Behind closed-doors, however, she literally prayed to God, on her knees, that her husband would start hitting her. She believed the only way people would understand what was going on was if there were visible wounds; the emotional pain could not be explained. She finally found the courage and strength to change the reality she and her children lived in. She became SO self-reliant, SO driven and SO independent, however, that many years later she still struggles to allow someone else to help carry the load. She, too, is a “casualty of home”.
There is a family living across the street from someone I know. The husband/father is regularly heard calling the five children names like “dumb head”. There is never ANY sign of love or care or concern…just anger and yelling. I can’t imagine how these children can grow up as anything but “casualties of home”.
Naming what dysfunction is going on in your own home is a good start to creating a home of peace. But before you can identify it, you have to be wiling to really look at the picture of your life. This requires stepping back and SEEING through a different lens.
When does seeking what WE love/need/want result in a heavy price paid for those who live with us? Is what’s important to YOU good or bad for those you love?
There are so many behaviors we CHOOSE that negatively affect the people we live with. Maybe we’re:
an obsessive gambler who threatens the financial security of the family
a neat freak who won’t tolerate one thing out-of-place
a hoarder who fills the home with possessions
an angry, bitter person who chooses not to see anything as good
a person with huge mood swings who is only either really up or really down and becomes the “barometer” of family life
a controller who manipulates through silence
a person so wrapped up in his/her own hobbies (video games, TV, collecting, you name it) that the family becomes invisible
a screamer who “unloads” whatever’s going on in his/her mind then feels better, but leaves all kinds of collateral damage in the wake of the outburst
These, of course, are just a few of the ways one person can impact an entire home, and desperation, fatigue, loneliness, illness, fear, and pain are just some of the results of living in a home that’s a “war zone”.
There aren’t “perfect” families, because we’re imperfect beings. (I think that those folks who would have us believe their home life is “just perfect”, are either fooling themselves or NEED that façade for some reason). We shouldn’t be shooting for “perfect”, but rather aiming for loving, kind, supportive and caring.
When do we lose the God-given joyful spirit that (I believe) we came to this earth with?
When is curiosity silenced?
What dreams have been destroyed because of another human being to whom we have given up our power?
How many people does it take to kill the spirit of another? I’d argue just one.
How many lives have been snuffed out long before they leave this earth because they’ve been “casualties of home”?
When you look back on your life, will you be someone who contributed to “casualties of home”, or will you be the medic coming in to lift another person up, make her feel loved, let him know he has value? Each day we have the opportunity to choose how the way we live, impacts those around us.
Every time we make a move toward peace, we change the energy of our world. One thought, one action, one person, every ONE matters. Let’s start here, at home, one step at time.
There’s a beautiful song, often sung at Christmas, which was written in 1955 by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson. It begins and ends with “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”.
Let there be peace
in our hearts
in our homes
in our families
in our community
in our nation
in our world
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
©2014 Peace Full Home