Jason and I just finished watching the ten part HBO miniseries The Pacific, and when it was over we watched the behind-the-scenes footage of the real-life marines when they were young. Jason loves history, and the twentieth century wars in particular, and he watches things like this all of the time, but it was new for me.
When it was over, I asked Jason if it ever bothers him how fast we are hurtling through time, as those marines went to fight in unimaginably horrific circumstances so that I could enjoy the freedom I take for granted almost every day, and now most of them who survived the war have died of old age. He said, "Of course it bothers me, but one of the things I love most about history is that we are cogs in the wheel, and that humans have been working through the same kinds of issues for century upon century, and there is a certain comfort in that."
I'm not sure that I like thinking of myself as a cog in the wheel. I see what he is saying, but deep inside of all of us lives the hope that we have something special and unique to offer to the world. We all want to make a difference and leave some kind of a mark, and every now and again it's a good reminder to get going on our dreams while we have the time and the breath to do so.
The world is full of uncertainties; it always has been and likely always will. It's depressing that we can't seem to learn from our mistakes. The United States is poised on the edge of financial collapse, and I would like to think they could have seen this coming and made better decisions. A troubled young man in Norway opened fire on a youth camp because his ideology differed from theirs. It's difficult not to despair under these circumstances.
I wish we could be unified with each other, and accept our differences instead of allowing them to divide us. There are so many boundary lines in this world and not enough grace to help us over the rough patches. We've been going to war and resorting to violence for way too many years. When is peace going to have a chance? We teach these things in elementary schools so that our kids will learn from the past and not make the same mistakes in the future, but for as long as these divisions last, so will the violence. We don't seem to be changing our ways as a global culture, and my heart aches badly when I reflect on these things.
I have to hang my hope on Gandhi's quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world." We can't control what happens in society, but we are responsible for what lives in our own heart. If I live out an alternative to violence and destruction, maybe there is hope for my children, and their children after them. Throughout human history, parents have worried about their kids, and prayed for safety and health, and leaned on each other for support in the hardest of times. We have the same chance.
This is our time. We are living now, at this moment in history, and the choices we make have significance in our relationships with a ripple effect to the rest of the world. We all have something to contribute and to do with our lives and our time. Today I feel the urgency to make better decisions, to be a little bit kinder, and to pursue my dreams while I have the chance.