I was thinking today about what’s happening in Egypt, and how, at Maura’s funeral, someone said she loved peace but also loved the warriors in his life. Most notably, this meant her husband Jarek, who fought in the Warsaw Uprising and as part of the Polish Underground during WWII, and her son Andrei, who fought more recently in Afghanistan. Maura, meanwhile, over the years worked intensely for Amnesty International, all manner of groups and causes, and particularly to start and support our local women’s shelter — all of this activism focused at its core on peace and helping the victims of violence and war.
What does it mean to fight for peace — something often seen as an oxymoron? I puzzle over this because, on hand, I believe completely in the example and method of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. — non-violence, taken to its life and death extreme, has proven at many times to be the only and best path to peace. Yet if Jarek and others like him, plus the Allies, used the principals of non-violence, I believe the Nazis would have prevailed longer and maybe to the end. I cannot reconcile my fierce belief in the principle of non-violence with my fierce gratefulness for warriors like Jarek and thousands of others who fought with guns, sticks, homemade grenades and all manner of other weapons.
I thought of Maura’s love for peace and the warriors even more while talking to a new student about to start in the Goddard program where I teach. An Egyptian American with family in both countries — including a brother on the streets of Cairo and a brother in the U.S. Marines, she is committed to study, create and bring to her community greater peace, yet her heart, even more than those of us a few degrees away from loving people in Egypt, is in a tenuous place, waiting and hoping for some good outcome. “What does it mean to love peace and the warrior?” I asked her, then telling her about Maura.
I don’t have clear answers, only that I’m deeply grateful for the thousands of Egyptians on the streets throughout their country, working — and if necessary, being warriors for — the greater peace of democracy and fairness than their current politics. And I’m grateful for all of us who live out peace, or at least the possibility of it, in our daily lives, making what we can of the world.