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Peace: What everyone needs to know

Late Friday before the storm hit I was relaxing with my children on a public pier at Donner Lake. The sun was still shining, the water was clear and invigorating. I didn’t smell the fuel nor hear the whine of jet skis.

The world seemed at peace. But it’s not. The current crises throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world mean we in the United States are constantly bombarded with the horrific news of conflict between Israel and Lebanon, of deaths by violence in Iraq numbering in the hundreds daily, of the slaughter and systematic starvation of hundreds of thousands of residents in Sudan, of lines in India, of Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, of the slaying of Mayans seeking to regain ancestral farmlands, of North Korea’s nuclear aspirations ” the list goes on.

Most of the news, when put simplistically, boils down to the fundamental belief that “My God is better than your God.” It seems history surely does repeat itself and the human race is doomed to one day destroy itself, apparently because the Almighty needs our help defending against dissent. Some days, the need to unplug from the news arises from a sense of depression and despair. Why can’t we all get along?



Seriously, who would Jesus bomb?

Going to the lake Friday afternoon was one of those excursions when I found myself running from world news, trying to find solace, seeking respite in a healing place I cherish. I found what I was looking for, but not as I expected.



Donner Lake was stunning in its beauty. Storm clouds were forming with urgent intensity while the late day sun shone sideways underneath them, giving my space an ethereal, golden glow. The light danced as it glinted on the water. Osprey hovered overhead. The kids were surprisingly calm and non-combative.

My teenage son, who has recently demonstrated to me that earth shattering crises do in fact begin at home, appeared to be having a little more difficulty than I unplugging from his scene. He clung to his cell phone like a lifeline, ensuring neither the dogs nor his brother nor a sudden gale force wind would send the Motorola plunging into the depths of “no longer in service.” When the phone finally rang, I was somewhat annoyed by the loud tones it emitted – was it Red Hot Chili Peppers? Hendrix? Green Day? The Talking Heads? As though caller ID weren’t warning enough of who’s trying to get through, my son has assigned each of his buddies and individual ring tone. The significance of each assignment has been lost on me, his middle-aged mother. It’s probably true: I don’t understand. I’ll never get it. But he does have good taste in music and great taste in friends and for both I am truly thankful.

I’m most thankful today, however, for what I overheard said between my son and his friend during their brief, cryptic exchange that took place on the phone as I sat quietly trying not to listen on a pier at Donner Lake.

While our world leaders do not seem able to conduct themselves in the ways we teach our children how adults should act, while our leaders appear they are more likely to launch into battle than they are to sit down and try to settle disputes in non-violent ways, why they shield their own young from the perils of war and send other, less privileged young men and women far away to do the dirty work, while they refuse to look at the photos of dead bodies returning from war zones and try to keep us too from seeing the corpses their aggression has borne to the grave, while they do all this and more, the world situation is not lost on our most precious resource, our children.

I have no idea what my son and his friend discussed between cell phones. I think they were speaking in English. But what I did catch, as they were about to hang up, is that my son ended his conversation with a single word that could change the world, if we only let it.

As he was preparing to end the call, after saying good-bye to his friend, my 13-year-old son said the most redeeming thing I’d heard all week : “Peace.” And then he closed his flip phone.

“Hmmm,” I said to myself. “Maybe he does know all there is to know.” I still had tears in my eyes when it started to rain. And thankfully, I still hope for the world in my heart.

Anne Grogan is a longtime Truckee resident.


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