FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Mother’s Lesson on Peace

As a writer on human rights issues I don’t lack reasons for concern. In many countries nowadays human rights continue in some form are not abused, where violence does not strike in one of its multiple forms. At such moments, I visit one of the many neighborhoods outside Manhattan, where I live, and where the change of locale can do wonders for my mood.

One of my favorite places is Brighton Beach, a community in Coney Island in the borough of Brooklyn, a subway ride away from Manhattan. In summer, I go to the boardwalk, sit in front of the sea and the salt breeze energizes me. When it gets colder, I visit one of the many ethnic stores and delight in their variety. When my appetite is in full force I go to one of the many restaurants in the area to savor food unlike what I eat at home every day.

The area is  now populated mainly by Jewish immigrants that left the former Soviet Union starting in the 1970’s and whose influx continues today. Years ago, the area was dubbed “Little Odessa”, since many of its residents came from Odessa, a city in the Ukraine. I remember the welcome surprise of a friend – with whom I was having dinner at one of the local Ukrainian restaurants – when he realized how many patrons came from his parents’ hometown.

More recently, new waves of immigrants have joined the Russians and Ukrainians: Chinese, Vietnamese, Armenian, Turkish, Mexican and Pakistanis make of this an even more cosmopolitan neighborhood. During the summer, people from other neighborhoods come in throngs to enjoy the beach.

Reading the news today has been particularly disheartening: the unrelenting conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with no hint of an effective rapprochement between them; the sustained violence in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, countries whose sores never heal; the bellicose stand between the United States and North Korea. In many countries, life has become a cheap commodity.

I want to forget about these events. I take the subway and after almost an hour I am in another world. I am sitting by the sea in Brighton Beach. Today is a relatively cold day so there are few people around. A young woman comes with her child and sits next to me. She sends her child to play on the sand. By the occasional remarks the woman makes to him I take her to be of Russian origin.

The child is happily playing with a ball. Suddenly he leaves the ball. Seeing a line of giant ants moving along the sand, he takes several of them and crushes them with one hand. On seeing this, the mother putts her knitting aside, beckons him, puts her hand on his shoulder and in heavily accented English, quietly but firmly says: “Don’t ever do that again. You don’t hurt nobody – do you hear me? – you don’t hurt nobody.”

The child looks at her with a mixture of fear and surprise. Then, slowly, he drops the dead ants, one by one, on the sand. Looking at the sudden smile on his mother face he also smiles and embraces her tightly. “I love you, mom,” he says. The incident taught me, quite unexpectedly, that some of life’s most simple and yet most profound lessons can be learned at a very young age. And it gave me reason for hope.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail