Creating a Particular Peace

I have to compartmentalize to be happy, placing my small, personal world within its own zip code, one unrelated to the community in which I reside. Joy and equanimity arrive throughout the day—time spent with family and friends, phone conversations, email exchanges with several people who’ve become friends, music, reading, watching a series or movie on Netflix, and running. (This morning, my feet danced the gorgeous autumn leaves.)

I have writing projects with Laura and Erma and a couple of weeks ago, we, The Sisterhood, went to NYC where Erma pitched her memoir, I’m Nobody, to movie producers. I walked over to the neighborhood where Charles and I lived and visited with our building’s super, first time I’ve been able to go near the address without crying.

Still, there’s the gargantuan, shading and shadowing everything. This monstrosity of images. That are real. And manmade. Children’s bodies washed ashore. Children who’ve fled their war-ravaged countries with their parents. Militarism. Military escalation in Syria and Iraq. Ratcheting up the rhetoric with Russia and China. The carnage in Gaza and a question: Can this be called anything but genocide of the Palestinian people?

Whatever you believe about 9/11, this is true: There has been no criminal investigation of the events that became a stampede of fear. That sent the masses to bookstores to purchase bibles, to kiosks to buy American flag pins, to shout, “God bless America” and “USA! USA! USA!”, to rally for war that appears to be never ending, to consent to surveillance, to condemn whistleblowers who’ve revealed war crimes, to separation from justice, separation from humanity, separation from empathy, to aligning with politician/preachers of bat-shit crazy ideologies, to … fascism.

And I haven’t even mentioned the chemicals that pervade our ecosystem, poisoning our health. That’s for another time. I need to enter one of those compartments, go to a gentle place. With the recognition that countless people all over the world don’t have this luxury.

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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