“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” ~ George Orwell
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” ~ John F. Kennedy
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein
“The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
In the U.S. we have just celebrated Independence Day. This year I have been reflecting on the importance of the words in The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution, which are known world wide for the concepts behind the words in them. Those words changed the world. They express concepts that were new at the time, like freedom for all, equality, the pursuit of happiness, self-governance and so many others. Our country became an experiment in working together so that all our citizens would prosper in peace.
We created this country so we could live in peace, but peace doesn’t come out of conflict. I use our history as evidence. Not long after we won our independence, we were at war again in 1812. Then many wars followed: The Civil War, the Indian wars, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and … you get the idea. We’re so used to what it feels like to be at war, that we have created the Temperance Movement to combat drunkenness. That left the door open for organized crime to move in which created more fighting. We now have the war on cancer, war on drugs, war on HIV/AIDS, war against poverty, and so on.
The use of the word war in all these instances, reflects our mindset. What if, instead of creating war monuments, we honored our war heroes by helping the family members left behind, and helped the living reintegrate into society? I have often heard war heroes say they hate it when we put them up on a pedestal. I’ve never been a warrior, but I imagine that those who must go and fight are the ones who want peace the most. They have seen horrendous things that haunt them for the rest of their lives. What if we helped them deal with their PTSD and find a measure of peace instead of asking them to be in parades with the weapons of war? I mean, do we really want to continue to glorify something so horrific?
Over the last three years I’ve learned some important lessons about words, the concepts behind them, and how we have misused them. Take for example the axiom, “Seeing is believing.” Most people would agree that that is true. But what would happen if we turn that phrase on its head and say, “I’ll see it when I believe it?”
I follow Pam Grout, author of E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. In a recent blog post she pointed out that we are “connected to everyone and everything that exists through an invisible field of intelligence and energy.” Scientists call this entanglement. If you want to know more, click here to read her blog post. In it she writes about recent discoveries about entanglement. I don’t want to get too technical, but these experiments by physicists prove that what we think, creates our reality. So, the phrase, “I’ll see it when I believe it,” is completely true.
Since scientists are turning what we thought we knew upside down, and recent events in this country and around the world are topsy turvy, it must be time to take a closer look at what we were sure we knew as fact.
This past weekend my husband and I watched the movie Arrival again. It perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to express here rather clumsily.
In the movie, Earth is visited by twelve large craft from outer space. Whenever that happens in movies, and I assume it would happen in real life too, the first reaction is one of fear. In the movie, the world leaders put the military on alert so they can defend our planet. But a main plot point is the difference between making decisions based on what has happened in the past on this planet, and learning new ways of thinking and being based on the language of the aliens. The protagonist is a woman linguist named Louise. She’s able to both teach the aliens our language and then learn theirs as well. In the process she begins to “dream” about future events in her own life. Learning the language of the aliens rewires her brain. She sees time and space the way the aliens do. In one crucial scene, Louise tries to get the government and military officials to understand the difference between the way we use the word weapon, and the way the aliens use it. But, as you can imagine, since that is a word with lots of baggage attached to it, she is not successful. So she takes desperate measures.
What this movie says to me is that we are often reacting to the words used by the people around us. We often make expedient choices based on fear rather than thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. The movie points out that words are inconsistent things. Their meanings really depend on who is using them, and how they are perceived. Therefore, sometimes we get angry at what someone says, thinking we understand what they mean, when in reality, they may mean something completely different. Some words are so charged with emotion that they trigger a violent response. In such cases, it’s hard to calm down enough to contemplate other possible meanings. A quote from a book Louise has written before her encounter with the aliens is this: “Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”
We find ourselves in conflict all over the world right now, and the question is, will we react to the words that fly around the news and social medias, or will we take time to look at the intent behind the words? Or maybe better still, find a balance between challenging the words, and believing that we can create a better world by using better words. We can practice seeing and feeling what it’s like to live in peace rather than in war. If we do that, eventually we will see the world we have wanted ever since The Declaration of Independence was written.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, paranormal novel in which two women must rebuild their lives. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.