Not ‘60’s “Peace” – Real Peace.
By Jim Kuiken
World peace would be great. The U.S. not in a war would be great. “Can’t we all just get along?”
The world is populated by people, and as long as there are at least two people, there will never be agreement on everything…and that only gets exponentially more difficult with each additional human you put into the mix. The planet will never be free from disagreements (about darn near everything), from discord, arguments, fights, and war.
Don’t get me wrong, just because it’s not attainable doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always work and strive for it, but that’s not the real peace I’m talking about. As with most things, I’m focused on a much simpler scope.
When are you at peace? True peace, not just the absence of strife and suffering. As my old (southern) law teacher always said, “it depeyands” (on what peace is to you).
Like most people, I’ve had bad experiences and trauma in my life. Many folks have more, lots of folks have less. I’ve always seemed to be in the wrong place at the right time, and have a fairly diverse background – but always a background of service, which puts you in the situation of helping others, which also means that you witness and experience the highs and unfortunately, the lows of life.
I’ve been a firefighter, an EMT, a career law enforcement officer/agent (state, local and federal), a career military (combat) servicemember, and even a diplomat in a war-torn country.
Some things you see can’t be unseen, things you’ve experienced and the trauma (physical, emotional and psychological) that you’ve endured stays with you, generally for life. And they stack up.
As a firefighter, I’ve seen people devastated by the loss of everything – their home, all of their worldly possessions, their pets, family members, loved ones. I’ve tried to comfort them in their grief.
As an EMT, I remember the ones I worked on but couldn’t save. All of them were tragic, but two in particular stay with me all the time. One young boy riding with his dad on a motorcycle, sitting on the seat just in front of his father, when the truck in front of them slammed on the brakes, causing the motorcycle to rear-end the pickup. The little boy, about 5, died as we worked on him there in the street – right in front of his dad. The other was a little girl who “stopped breathing”. I performed CPR on her for about 10 minutes before the ALS ambulance arrived, and then rode with her to continue treatment during the trip to the hospital, where she died. We later found out that her mother’s boyfriend had smothered her with a pillow because she wouldn’t stop crying and take a nap while they were trying to get high.
I won’t even go into all the depraved, cruel and completely inhuman things, all the human suffering and death that I saw in a career in law enforcement, working everything from basic patrol and traffic, up through human smuggling, sex slave trafficking, gangs, drugs, and counter-terrorism.
And war as a combat Marine…several wars. Places like Southeast Asia, the Middle-East, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq… I can’t say it much better than Joseph Galloway. “We who have seen war, will never stop seeing it. In the silence of the night, we will always hear the screams. So this is our story, for we were soldiers once, and young.”
I wish I could say I was unique, but I’m not – far from it. Millions who have served have similar stories. Most people have their own traumatic backgrounds, abuse, tragedy, scars…
So how do you find peace? Tragically, many never do – which often spawns more tragedy. Fortunately, some do find some peace. I know I have finally begun to find some brief moments of peace in those quiet pockets of life, and I’m grateful. Here are a few of those moments…
What moments do you treasure? When and where have you found peace…or have you? I hope you take a moment and look for that place, time, or thing…and I wish you true peace, even if only for those fleeting moments.