It’s warmer outside than it is the house this morning, one of the first days so far this year that I can say that. So, that sees me taking my legume sproutlings (broad beans, french beans and peas) outside to germinate in their plastic covered tray. I don’t know whether it will work, but you have to reach for the light where you find it.
Inside the house it feels pretty grey, and not just because it’s waiting for the sun to hit the windows or the late heating oil delivery. It’s the radio – with the news of the US, UK, and Fr attack against Syria. I’m struck by the contradiction of this experience. The warm sun outside, the chatter of the sparrows from the hedges, the tentative life of the beans – the peace of it. Not so for the people of Damascus and Homs, this morning.
They were targeted attacks, I get that. Assad and his cronies in Mother Russia and Iran are probably responsible for the most terrible of things, I get that too. But that leaves us with the moral vacuum that is the utilitarian debate “how many civilian casualties mitigate other civilian casualties?” or even “does it matter if we kill the soldiers and airbase staff?”
I believe in peace. Or rather, I should say that I try in my small and unsuccessful ways to practice peace. That practice is the important part. It seems that it’s not enough just to have beliefs in this world of Ratheon and Boeing. Practice is an action, it’s a process and a conversation and a journey. Doing lots and lots of little things to help something grow, through the hard times and the frustrations and the setbacks. It’s not brinkmanship or the media wargasm that rages 24/7.
Here’s a weird thing about beans. The Pythagoreans used to believe that they were embryos (which they kind of are, biologically) and that fava beans in particular were the recycling of human soul-stuff into plant form. Like children, they can be vigorous and wanton, but they require tender nurturing when they are young. A thousand things can go wrong and you could be left with barren ground.
Peace too, is a fragile, embryonic thing. During the Syrian conflict there has always been a strong if under-reported radical current of non-violence and democratic justice – one which is being threatened by Assad’s state and other belligerent actors, as well as by the sound of cruise missiles.
On days like these, it feels like the answers are right there, right outside the door if we could just spend the time to listen, and not have our ears filled with the drums of war.