Second Verse Same as the First or History Oversimplified

picture credit: Windows insert, earth free clip-art

Back in the dark ages, when I was in Elementary School, when we would ride the bus for field trips, we would sing our versions of popular songs.  There was one song that had one verse, repeated once.  Well, we would drag it on verse after verse by chanting between verses, “(whichever) verse same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse,” and make it so.  This was continued until we got bored of it or the driver/teacher told us to stop.  As we, Mother Earth’s children, have traveled on our field trip of life, we have been singing the same song for millennia.

The earliest records for both Assyria and Babylonia started about 3000 BCE (before common era).  These cities each became, in turn, large and prosperous civilizations, becoming that way by conquest.  You know, looting, burning, smashing crashing, killing, maiming, and carrying away of captives to increase the “working class”, all because they were “The Best” and they could.

They were replaced by the Persians who were replaced by this guy named Alexander (either the Great or the Worst, depending on which country you are from) who was followed by folks from a small town named Rome.  Christian crusaders took over when the followers of Jupiter quit.  When they finally got their tails kicked in the Holy Land, they started in on each other.  England vs Spain vs Portugal vs France vs you name it.  Vikings vs everybody (hey, I actually like these guys, got my red hair from somewhere).  In between inter-country wars, civil battles raged.  And as we have heard all to loudly lately, the followers of Allah have joined the chorus for centuries.  Now just about everyone is singing along.

That neck of the world woods didn’t have a monopoly on war.  India first saw the Aryans vs the Dravidians.  Then came the Maurya Empire, the Gupta Empire and bringing it into the CE (common era) the Huns and the Mongols.  Next were the Portuguese followed by the British.  Now they just squabble with their Pakistani neighbors.

From the year 1766 BCE to 1912 CE when the Republic of China was established, China had 10 dynasties: Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Mongol, Ming and Manchu.  The Communist party took control in 1949 and has been fighting neighbors (and themselves) since.  Where’s Confucius when you need him?

Mama Earth hasn’t heard any different tunes from her Western Hemisphere children.  Civilizations such as the Anasazi, Aztec, Inca, Olmec, Maya, Wari and Zapotec didn’t become great and powerful by passing out fudge and popcorn.  Never mind the “sweet harmonies” sung by the European settlers.  Now, well, we’re still at each other’s throats.

The song has become louder and worse at time has gone on.  War horses; sharper, harder to break and longer range hand weapons; catapults and battering rams for breaking down battlements, flaming oil for pouring down battlements; gunpowder leading to large and small firearms (makes better fireworks, thank you); and toxic biology are part of the cacophony.  Selfish pride, bigotry, lies, hatred and the refusal to forgive add an off-key harmony.  The loudest dissonance so far is the atomic bomb.

The most that we, the Shelley Elementary field trippers, got from our teacher was an exasperated order.  I’m afraid we, the Planet Earth field trippers, will get much more from our galactic teachers of Karma and God.  Isn’t it time we sang the last verse?

What do you think?  Thanks for reading.

picture credit: Windows insert, earth free clip-art

“Just a piece of string”

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Latter-day Saints have a service each first Sunday of the month called Fast and Testimony meeting.  The day before we fast two meals and give the cost, or more to the Fast Offering fund.  Then in place of a regular church service we have a time when whoever wishes to may stand and bear testimony to how the gospel and God have helped their lives.  Yesterday was Testimony meeting for September.

One young member, about 10 or 11 years old.  Stood and bore a beautiful testimony of how forgiveness helps her.  She come from a loving, supportive family.  They sit reasonably well behaved during church and I have seen her help with younger sibling.  So, at first glance one wonders what she has to forgive.  Well, she’s the oldest of four girls and as the second oldest of five girls, I can relate.  She has three younger sisters!

She stated that forgiving someone makes her feel good.  That she thinks it is easy and then finds out it can be hard.  She said, “I think sometimes, we say we forgive, but do we really?  I have to forgive my sisters and I have to forgive my friends, and I have to forgive myself.”

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The story goes that one day, a soldier traveling between battles, found himself in a small town.  He was jauntily strolling the streets when he saw a length of colorful string on the sidewalk.  He picked it up and put it into his pocket thinking, perhaps I can use this, it might bring me luck.  Later that day, as the soldier was enjoying a simple but delicious dinner, he was accosted by the local constabulary, arrested for theft and taken to jail.  It seems a girl had lost her brightly colored purse and someone had seen the soldier pick up a brightly colored object and place it into his pocket.

Try as he might, even by producing the string, the soldier could not convince the suspicious folk he was not the thief.  Some days later, the purse was found and the soldier was unceremoniously released.

Feeling that he was justly insulted for being unjustly condemned, he tried to obtain an apology from the locals, to no avail.  Finally, he left town but told his tale of woe to everyone he encountered, without ceasing.  In fact, his last mortal words were, “a piece of string, it was just a piece of string.”

I looked for a picture of forgiveness and found a quote, lots of them.   One site listed 2461 quotes tagged as forgiveness.  Obviously more people than my young church sister think that forgiveness is important.

Someone, perhaps the great philosopher Anonymous wrote, “To heal a wound you need to stop touching it.”  As a nurse, I understand that.  Even a simple cut can become infected and enlarged if not treated properly and then left alone to heal.  A small scab may become an ugly scar if repeatedly ripped off before it falls on its own.  How many emotional wounds do we keep touching?

My young church sister asked the question, “I think sometimes, we say we forgive, but do we really?”  I’m asking what if?

What if the leaders on both sides of the conflict in ___pick a place____ decided to take Oscar Wilde’s advice, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much?”  Well, that’s pretty obvious, ISIS would simply be an old Egyptian goddess (a peaceful one at that), and the newspaper would be a lot thinner.

What if then, if you and I forgave our sisters, brothers, friends, parents, children, co-workers, idiots on the road or in Congress, would we even have the inclination to make enemies?

Above all, what if we forgave ourselves?