01 September 2013

Peace is PatrioticI

Hi I'm Anush and welcome to Episode 11 of  inside the pomegranate. It is SO  hot in here today - 100 degrees,  and we have been living with the a/c on.  Since our Avon Walk is coming up next weekend, we had planned one last training walk.  I know, I know...probably not the smartest move in this kind of heat, but we did decide to take the walk to the ocean, where it was only in the upper 80's. Seriously.  So this morning,  Tamar, aka Sugar, and I set out at 7:00 a.m. to walk a circuit of what we thought was 12 miles: from Dockweiller Beach to head south to Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo beaches and back.  We had used an app called "Map My Walk" which basically routes your walk and tells you your mileage. We had walked a shorter version of this route before but thought we'd add a couple more miles so we started one beach down.  What we had mapped to be a 1 mile stretch of bike path, really ended up being more like 2 and a quarter miles. So we're thinking we'll clear the bike bath in about 20 minutes.  And we're walking....and walking...and walking....and 40 minutes later we're in Manhattan Beach thinking, why did it take so long....that was way over a mile.  Anyways, the walk went off without a hitch, and after doing the circuit we found ourselves back on the long stretch of bike path back to our cars.  By mile 13 we had run out of water, the sun was beating down on us and on both sides of the path, sand all around.  It was tough. Today we walked 15.5 miles, and those last stretch was grueling.  It was hot, the sun was right overhead, and the reflective nature of the concrete and the sand fried us to a nice crispy pink!  As I often do in times when I need to stay focused, I started thinking about my grandmother,  who was made to walk through the desert during the genocide.

It wasn't like today, I thought.  It's not like they she was wearing a cool tank top and comfortable shoes. The Armenian women of that time had long dresses on...with high collars and long sleeves.  She wasn't carrying a pack with water on her back like I was.  She was carrying her child  and their belongings.  Through the hot, hot desert.  Not able to stop in any shade she may have found.  Not able to stop for water or food.  And definitely not able to know that after the next mile or two it would be over and she'd be able to go home to their loved ones.  No.  She walked on.  Not knowing where she was were , or if she was  going to make it.  As I was walking that final mile, I was thinking about this all.  What would I do if I saw those that were walking on the same path as me falling down, unable to keep walking.  What if I couldn't help them...wasn't allowed to help them?  And the most horrible thing...what if the child I was carrying with me died in the desert and I had to bury him and leave him there?  My grandmother had to bury my uncle.  I can't imagine the tremendous grief she must have felt not only then but throughout her entire life.  

During my childhood, I remember going to the cemetary with my family to pay our respects to my grandfather.  My grandmother would always remember my young uncle at that time.  She would always cry that my grandfather was lucky to have a place of rest.  And mention her child who wasn't afforded that grave.  As a child, I didn't understand why she seemed so "mean" or "resentful" of my grandfather.  Once I became a mother, I can't imagine the pain she must have felt from her broken heart of having to bury her child and leave him behind.  I'm sure in her lifetime, she relived that terrible day over and over again. 

I gather a lot of strength from my grandmother.   Not only when walking the route, but when walking through life's difficulties and challenges.  The thing that got her through it was her faith in God.  It was the ONLY thing that got her through it.  And she remained strong because of it.  In such uncertain times, God was the only thing that she could count on as a constant..her only refuge.  Like her, I am a fighter, a survivor.   And I am inspired to stay strong in my faith because of her.  

Although we had to get in that last training walk, my heart was divided today.  There was a rally against the looming military action in Syria that I wanted to attend.  The walk, or the rally?  The walk? or the Rally? And although my heart was at the rally, I have made the commitment to walk 39 miles for a cause that I had to prepare for...so I had to train.  I have been reading the headlines about Syria, watching the news, and I have been praying for peace.  For wisdom for our president...and for the world leaders that make these terrible decisions of war.  I am against the war in Syria, as I was against the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and though I was too young to go to a protest rally for VietNam, I came from a household that opposed the war.  My earliest protest experience though was going with my parents to Pershing Square in Los Angeles on April 24 call attention to what had happened to the Armenians.  Back then, people didn't know too much about Armenians, and there weren't too many that would gather.  But my parents would take us with them and we would walk in protest.

As a child of the 70's, we grew up this way.  We joined in rew up protesting for causes. I was involved with Greenpeace back then, and protested the hunting of whales and the clubbing of seals, and then later, was involved in the No Nukes campaign at Diablo Canyon.  Times have changed, but the right to protest hasn't.  Flash forward to current times.  Social Media is now the "street corner" where you can hold up your sign in protest.  You can "share" the banners that people are posting.  Add your comments.  A friend of mine reminded me just yesterday that a few years ago, we were protesting the war in Iraq on Friday evenings in Montrose, holding up signs in protest.  I remember on the opposite corner of this small town, stood a group of veterans...standing under the flag of the United States.  Holding up signs that said, "support our troops".  The corner that we were standing on, had an actual flag pole, yet the veterans had chained it so that we wouldn't be able to fly the American flag there and thus, not be able to stand under the U.S. flag and protest.  Wasn't THAT Un-American?

I found this so odd.  Did they really think that because we were protesting a war, that we were not supporting our troops.  As an American, I am grateful for those that are in the military service...who serve our country.  But as a Christian, as a mother, as a Child of God, I am opposed to war.  Yes, I support our troops.  I support them so much that I want every one of them brought back home alive.  Why is it that the flag of our country waves so proudly in times of war?  Why is it that the veterans stand under this flag during these times, waving it, and professing their allegiance to this great country of the United States.  Why are the peacemakers not allowed to stand under the banner of our country.  Do we only stand with our country in times of war?  Are we not allowed to work toward a model of a peaceful country?  I don't get the line of thinking there.  The last time I looked, in this country we have a right to protest.  So what was up with that?

So anyway, I started looking at all the banner posts that are going up on Facebook about what's going on in Syria.  Whether standing on a small corner in Montrose years ago, or standing in a large protest of solidarity with others around the world, or just posting your view on FB, it's all a way to "do something" with the insanity that is looming around us.

I had posted on facebook, "Peace cannot be achieved through violence. Ever." 
I received the following comment:  so... it's a good thing the world looked the other way in 1915?
I thought about this a lot over the past few days since the comment was posted.  I don't think it's ever right to stand back and not do anything about it.  That's what happened in 1915 when the Turks killed my people. People knew what was going on, and turned a blind eye to it under the umbrella of war.  No, I don't think it's okay to look the other way.  But there are other ways to solve the violence and hatred than through force.  Sanctions, negotiations, trying for War Crimes.  '

It was Gandhi who said “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”  Isn't that the truth?

But that evening,  I received another response to my post.  And that said this:   I would agree with you in all cases except one: Isaiah 53 - "By His wounds we are healed"
Reflecting on this comment, I agree.  The only time that violence brought about love was when Christ was cruicified for our sins.  Because he loved us so much, we received His ultimate sacrifice.  If we are called to Christianity, we must follow HIS command:  
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love oneanother. John 13:34

What a concept.  If we could only Love One Another as Christ loved us, in other words, do our utmost - with our entire being - all the ten commandments would be addressed, right?  All things are achieved through love.  

I will continue to pray for peace and wisdom for the world and it's leaders..and for our President.  I ask that you do the same.  Pray for Peace. For our world. For humanity. We all belong to one another.  Peace is Patriotic.  I hope that someday, we can stand under our flag...and that our flag will wave as a banner of Peace.
Have a wonderful week everyone.  And if you would, please keep Fr. Vazken, myself, and the rest of us on Team in Her Shoes in your prayers next weekend, september 7 and 8, as we'll be walking 39.3 miles for breast cancer at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Santa Barbara.  See the info below in case you're so inclined to come on down to the opening or closing ceremonies or find us on the walk route and cheer us on.



Hotel IconOpening Ceremony
Chase Palm Park
323 East Cabrillo Boulevard
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Opening: September 7, 2013 | Walker Arrival 5:00 - 6:00 A.M. | Ceremony Begins 6:30 A.M.
Closing: September 8, 2013 | Ceremony Begins at 2:30 P.M.
Complimentary shuttles to the Opening Ceremony at Chase Palm Park will run from Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort between 4:00 - 6:00 A.M. Saturday morning.
There is also weekend long parking available at Chase Palm Park (the Opening Ceremony Site). Parking is limited, please carpool to this site.
Please note that due to the Closing Ceremony location being at Carpinteria State Beach, you will need to take the shuttle from the Closing Ceremony site back to Chase Palm Park in order to get your vehicle. These shuttles will not depart from Carpinteria State Beach until after the Closing Ceremony has concluded (approximately 4:00 P.M.).
Closing Ceremony
Carpinteria State Beach
Linden Ave & 3rd Street
Carpinteria, CA 93013
Friends and family are encouraged to bring picnic gear to Closing Ceremony as the beach is open to the general public. It’s also a great time to explore the local businesses bordering the park on Linden Avenue.
Shuttle buses to the both the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort and Chase Palm Park on Sunday will depart immediately after the conclusion of the Closing Ceremony.

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