Earth-Torn by kmls

Why I’m Giving Up on Peace

Earth-Torn by kmls

Things don’t look so good right now.

After the hope of the “Arab Spring,” the Middle East has dissolved into a perpetual war zone with no end in site. The torture and murder of youth in Israel-Palestine has opened another round of fresh blood-letting. A Malaysian jetliner is destroyed by a missile over war-torn Ukraine, the gruesome images tweeted for all to see. We are a world at war with itself, with around 50 conflicts globally as of this writing. The majority of deaths are civilian, “collateral damage” as it were, a dehumanizing term if ever there was one.

Here, our borders teem with desperate children. The gap between rich and poor widens. Solutions are short-sighted and generally involve some band-aid fix, like a new gadget, another casino, or more guns on the street. Congress is a bastion of impotence and hubris. We scrabble over issues that mean nothing like dogs after crumbs while the country and the world burns around us.

While we laud our technological advances, it seems the one thing we are most adept at is killing each other.

So last night my wife and I, as we are wont to do each evening, talked about our days and the state of this spinning sphere like some morbid carousel we find ourselves stuck on. We both have been at this so-called peace work for most of our lives. At times we wonder why. We went to bed rather depressed.

I awoke to a text message from her. She was sharing a scripture she read this morning.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10). As she said in her text, pretty apropos.

Some things jumped out at me right away. We do good simply because it is the right thing to do. We do not limit who we do good to – “everyone” is pretty clear. Those closest to us, within the same family of faith, who sometimes are the hardest to do good to, are not to be left out either. Tenacity and obedience can overcome despair. We don’t give up. There is an end, a flowering of planted seed, a reaping of glorious fruit.

Our fight is not against flesh and blood. Nor should our faith and ultimate allegiance be in and to such. Despair arises when we are inundated with bad news and when our trust in human leadership and institutions has been broken yet again.

Rather we wage a war against the principalities and powers, the spiritual forces of evil in high places. Such a battle requires divine help and divine eyes to see the opportunities to do good as well as the Good News (gospel) occurring around us everyday.

So I’ve given up on peace.

But I have not given up on the good – doing it and being a part of it.

The rest I leave in the hands of the One who continues to hold this broken world in loving, gentle hands.

3-Fingers by kmls

SPOKEN WORD – 3 Fingers: Who Is Elliot Rodger?

3-Fingers by kmls

Audio reflection on the shooting that occurred in Isla Vista, California on May 23, 2014. Continue to pray for all of those affected by this tragedy as well as others around the world. And for men especially who continue to live out of the victim mentality.



B.E. – Before Earbuds

Before earbuds, we listened to audio books in the car together. Or the radio, radio dramas, CDs, each other, the wind. There were of course compromises necessary and no one had their way all of the time, but memories of shared listenings were created.

Then these noisy plugs came and the private world became more important then the mess of public sound. I can’t help but notice a correlation between such solo activity and the lack of social graces as well as selfish behavior not to mention a decrease in empathy. But I could be mistaken.

Perhaps an experiment is in order. I could further decrease my coolness in the eyes of my children and make our car a “no earbuds zone.” I would post a sign on the back of the driver’s seat stating the reasoning behind such a rule and encourage earbud-free interactions among the passengers.

Would the atmosphere degenerate into frowns in my rear view mirror? Or would the silence give way to the joyful shared noise I miss so much?

Of course it would mean that the driver would have to be more present to the present and to the passengers.

There’s NOT A Soldier In All Of Us

Child Inside by KMLS

Early on as an author I received criticism for using the proverbial “we” to make a point.

Some were offended that I presumed to speak for them. I have come to see that what I say has more integrity and honesty if I simply write in the first person.

So imagine my disgust at the continuing advertising campaign for the Activision franchise of first person military shooter games such as Call of Duty. The ads feature “average” citizens dressed in civilian clothes and heavy weaponry blowing armored objects and people to smithereens as they race through militaresque landscapes.

The ads end with the line:

“There’s A Soldier In All of Us.”

I beg to differ.

Please don’t presume to speak for me.

Or the host of people working for peace in the world.

That offends me.

As does the idea of civilians playing at war.

Which cheapens the incredible cost of war on the lives of those affected. Talk about collateral damage.

Nor does it honor those who actually have been soldiers. (No matter how much money and games Activision gives to its endowment for veterans). On that note, I find it more than a little ironic (and disgusting) that a company which makes billions off a video game franchise glorifying the violence of war gives a miniscule percentage of that money to those paralyzed by the violence of war. Seems like there is another kind of paralysis going on.

I think I’ll start my own advertising campaign for a new video game.

It will show young people dressed in military fatigues with heavy weaponry running down office or school hallways or city streets killing civilians.

Oh wait, that’s not a game. It’s real life.

Another shooting. Another war. So tell me, what are you fighting for? War is not a game. Death is not a high score.

At the risk of stepping outside of the first person, I offer the following as perhaps a little closer to the truth though I suspect it will never have its own popular video game franchise or advertising campaign. But then that’s sort of how things are in the upside-down kingdom. But here goes:

Visualize compassion. Hugs. People loving on each other. That very cool Michael Jackson Heal The World music video. Music ends.

A line scrolls across the screen.

There’s A Child In All Of Us.

Fade to black.

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste – And A Thing Even Harder To Heal

Troubled Brain by kmls

Violence begins in the mind.

Though not always does the idea blossom into a bloody flower.

In the wake of the recent shootings in Connecticut, my first sense is overwhelming sadness, not only for these children but for those the world over, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, and a hundred other places, whose lives are cut short by senseless violence.

We have a problem with violence in this society and there is much more we can do to pass common sense gun control laws as well as doing a better job of protecting our children from violent media which desensitizes them and us from the horror of murder, however we seek to name or justify it.

Yet in the wake of another tragedy, I have also been struck by a common theme within these mass shootings which relates to my opening statement.

Violence begins in the mind.

Maybe I am naive but I believe that humans are not predisposed to killing each other. Boot camp is not simply about creating a physique capable of undergoing the stress of war. It is primarily about training the mind to kill. Though the trauma that one experiences afterwards is no less as can be attested by the high rates of suicides, homicides, divorce, homelessness, alcoholism, etc. among veterans.

So perhaps it is more apt to say the we have a problem in this society with the violent mind. And with how we treat (or do not treat) the mentally ill among us.

It is easy to say that what we see or play does not affect our actions. We may say, “I can separate fantasy from reality – the FPS video game I play or horror film I watch won’t make me go out and do something stupid!” And I’m sure you are aware of the bumper sticker, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” While I have lots of problems with such statements let me simply answer with the question – What do we do with the people with access to guns who cannot separate fantasy from reality?

According to a report conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one in five American adults has experienced mental illness in the last year with younger adults (ages 18 to 25) having twice as high rates of mental illness as older adults (age 50 and older). 60% of people with a SERIOUS mental illness received services. The full report is here:

So the findings beg the questions: What of those who were not diagnosed? And what became of the 40% of those with a SERIOUS mental illness who did not receive services?

More often than not, following a mass killing we learn that the killer(s) struggled with mental illness. Yet that seems to get lost in the rhetoric. We preach healing for the victims, we may pass a law or two, but we as a society have yet to come to terms with our continued neglect of those who need mental healing. Since 1950 the number of beds available in US psychiatric hospitals has dropped by 90 percent! (An excellent article is here: “Neglect of the mentally ill is the great scandal of our times.”)

It is left up to families to care and minister to their children, brothers, sisters, and relatives and it is a crap shoot about whether their assistance will be successful. The failures breed horrible statistics on the nightly news.

Violence begins in the mind.

And it is there where healing must begin as well.

The scriptures are filled with calls for us look after the weak and distressed among us. If we wish to truly become a society of compassion and healing, rather than one bathed in blood, we must take this call to heart.

And to our collective mind.