Monday, January 28, 2013

The Color of a Soul

The Color of a Soul
by Lynda Allen

His face was empty but I could still glimpse his life in his eyes.  A life that no longer mattered here on this field of destruction.  I can feel movement around me but all I can do is look into his unblinking eyes.  He was my brother in what seems like another world.  I can’t remember my own name, only the color of his eyes in the summer sun.  How could someone we don’t know have taken his life?  I can’t grasp the truth or insanity of it.  

Bullets and bodies continue to fall around me but have no impact on me.  Not a tear falls upon his body; they dried up long ago with others lost.  But this, this is different.  I have no words for the difference, for the smell in the air, for the scene before me.  It’s beyond anything imaginable, beyond Sunday school Hell. The sounds register on some level, the cries and orders barked around me.  Still none of it touches me.  There is only him and me and this frozen moment.  Frozen like the cold blue of his eyes, frozen like the blood in my veins.  No anger emerges to set me in motion, to avenge his small life, a life small enough not to be noticed by those who lunge past.  A life unnoticed by the eyes of war.

Someone removed me eventually from the site and later his body was collected and counted and prepared for the last trip home.  They let me accompany him; not knowing what else to do with me.  I had not spoken nor heard a word since they found me there by his side.  What to do with a soldier who can neither speak nor hear?  Ship him home along with the dead, as useless to the battle as they now are.  They don’t know I never left that battle.  Still I reside there where my heart, my hope, my brother’s last breath lay buried among the monuments of great deeds. 

Great deeds; brothers killing brothers they’ve never known.  My greatest deed was being his older brother.  That deed ended with one bullet from the gun of one who never knew the color of his eyes dead or alive.  For the color was slightly different in death.  I didn’t know the soul had color, but it must for it took some blue from his eye when it left him behind.  The mud on his face, the tone of his skin, the ever present green of his uniform, all were the same.  All the same but his eyes. If his eyes had been closed things might have been different.  I might have been able to move or breathe. 

So I flew home beside him thinking it couldn’t get worse, but back home I had to look Mom in the eyes, eyes the same color as his in life, now the same color as his were in death.  Life and soul gone from her too.  A flag, a dog tag, a telegram how can they fill a void so wide?  

I wanted to comfort her.  I wanted to have the right words.  There are no words of comfort from a field of battle drenched in blood and sorrow.  The best I could do was to lead her away from the grave where her heart now lay buried, just as they led me away from the ground where my heart lies.  What will grow where hearts lie buried?  There’s nothing for me but to silently pray that where a heart is buried, love can one day put down roots.

(inspired by the Carbon Leaf song, The War Was in Color)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Department of Peace

A while ago I felt inspired to write to President Obama about creating the United States Department of Peace. There has been a movement to create a Department of Peace for years, supported by members of congress from both the Democratic and Republican parties and as far back as 1793. I delayed in writing the letter but was not sure why. Then yesterday I heard a discussion on the radio about online petitions and a site the White House created called We the People, where anyone can register and create their own petition. 

That was apparently the information I had been waiting for. I honestly believe that this issue is non-partisan, that a Department of Peace is essential if we want to create a peaceful future for ourselves and future generations. Below is the letter I wrote to the President - it is in it's full length, in order to submit it on the White House site I had to shorten it! Don't they know I'm a writer?! 

Here is a link the petition for the creation of the United States Department of Peace, I also had to shorten the description of the petition as they only allow 800 characters! If you would like information about the bill submitted in 2007 to Congress for the creation of a Department of Peace you can find that here,

Together we can make our voices heard with a call for Peace. Until the petition reaches 150 signatures it will not be publicly viewable on the We the People website so you have to follow or copy and paste the link for now. To be reviewed by the White House the petition needs to get 100,000 signatures by February 15!

Please be the peace you hope to see in the world and sign the petition and share the link.

In gratitude,

January 16, 2013

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations on your re-election. As a two term president I’m sure you are acutely aware of the legacy you will leave as a gift to our country. Therefore, as you celebrate your inauguration there is no better time to make a choice that will positively impact not only our country, but also our world, for generations to come.  I ask you as a citizen, as a parent and as a member of our human family, please Mr. President take this opportunity to make a bold statement for peace by creating a Department of Peace.

As I’m sure you know, there is a long history of a call for a Department of Peace dating back to our Founding Fathers. With the horrors of Newtown still fresh in our mind you could say that now is the time.  And it is indeed time to heed the call for peace, but not solely as a reaction to the debate on gun violence, but because it is the right thing to do. There must be balance to achieve harmony. So I ask you, how will we ever reach a place of balance and harmony and even begin to have a culture of peace when we have only a Department of Defense?  

We have a history of reacting to our world rather than creating the world we hope to see. Yet, you yourself have said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Please, live your own inspiring words and be the change our world seeks. You have the opportunity and the means; use them to create a legacy of peace. I know you have the heart to do it and I know you will have people all over the country and all over the world who will support and cheer your choice. Be the leader I know you are and lead us along a path of peace.

While I have a strong belief that peace begins within each heart, a Department of Peace could provide the means to assist so many in finding that path to peace. The Department of Peace can coordinate the provision of conflict resolution materials and training for schools, universities, non-profit organizations, corporations, cities and towns across the United States. It’s true that we already attempt to assist in negotiations in difficult situations around the world, but imagine the impact it would have if there were a department full of people whose job it was to be peacekeepers every day. Peacekeepers not just on the international scale, but in cities plagued by gang violence, in prisons where violence is the culture rather than peace and in communities reaching out to people of different ethnic groups and backgrounds to bring people together to see their similarities rather than their differences.  The possibilities are limited only by our imagination! So imagine it Mr. President, a country where peace is a way of life. That is the legacy you can create for yourself and for all of us.

In order to demonstrate to you the support I know you will have for a Department of Peace, after I send this letter to you I plan to take you up on your offer of participation and collaboration on the We the People website and will begin a petition for a Department of Peace.  

My heart is with you President Obama, now is the time and you are the one. Be the change.

In gratitude and peace,
Lynda Allen