During the summer of love, 1967, I turned 9 years old. The winter before, I stayed home sick with mononucleosis – out of school for 8 weeks. With plenty of time spent resting on the living room couch, television on, I became acutely aware of the horrors of the Vietnam war.
Two years later, a neighbor friend’s older brother was killed in a helicopter crash while returning from Vietnam. The war it seemed, had come a little closer to home when Frankie Perry didn’t return to his family. Watching my friend collapse in tears upon learning about her brother’s death I realized I couldn’t imagine her pain and felt oddly uncomfortable for the peace and comfort I had in my young life. I ran home confused and ashamed.
With the awareness of war and how horrible humans can behave towards each other came a very strong emotional desire for peace. I like to think that most of us feel this desire, if not often, at least occasionally. Especially, or ironically, when living peacefully challenges us.
This past winter my sister and I were cleaning out my mom and step-dad’s condo where they had lived for the last 20 or so years. Unable to live independently – my mom with dementia and my step-dad too frail to get around, they moved into a memory care facility where they now have 24/7 nursing care. They live in Atlanta, so I was away from my Oregon home for about 8 weeks helping out as much as I could.
Looking through their pictures and keepsakes prompted many memories of days long gone. Although not among their belongings, I remembered a red leather address book that my mom kept. The old-school kind with tabbed pages in alphabetical order. I remembered a day when I was 9, sitting at the kitchen table reading mom’s address book, feeling very sad about the world. This is perhaps the first time I can recall taking on the burden of the world and with such depth of feeling. I thumbed through the book to a blank page towards the back and wrote, “Peace to all the world. Love, Debbie,” and dated it, which is why I remember it was 1967.
Peace seems elusive, in these times more than ever with our heightened awareness of world affairs. There are though many people working to make a difference. Today as I was browsing through C-Span’s Book TV, I found a wonderful talk by John Hunter, speaking about his career teaching gifted 4th and 5th graders in a game he created called World Peace Game. I was curious to hear the details and if I am understanding him correctly the game is primarily a way to teach children the art of relationship, especially negotiating and resolving conflicts through conversation and persuasion. Wouldn’t it be great if this game were available for adults?
Perhaps this is old news and I am the last to discover this wonderful man and his vision. But, in case I am not the last, I wanted to share the link of the Book TV show here:
Or, for a quick glance at John Hunter, the students and the game, here is a brief 8 1/2 minute video:
Thanks John Ono Lennon for so many youthful lessons and this: