Last week as I was pulling into our driveway after picking Atticus up from school, 4 helicopters flew over our house in a perfect square formation.
Atticus was very impressed and so was I.
I am impressed when people can parallel park on the first try so piloting an aircraft is pretty amazing to me.
We live right under the flight path for Davis Monthan Air Force base and quite often their aircraft fly over my house while I meditate, clean the kitchen, sit on my couch or eat dinner.
Yet, my home feels safe.
I've never worried that the planes above me would intentionally harm me.
I've never worried that anyone might want to hurt me or my family because of our beliefs but my son asked "why are they flying like that? Where are they going?"
I told him "They are practicing for various conflicts and operations around the world. We are always fighting someone, it seems".
He was surprised " Why?"
Now, we have discussed the world's conflicts before.
Last year his school district had all the kids dress in red, white and blue in support of one of the local schools whose parents were being deployed to Afghanistan. I don't shelter him from the dark side of the world but I don't see the benefit of raising him with fear. He knows there is a lot of suffering around the world and within our own community but unlike my childhood in which, I was told the Russians and Iranians could arrive at anytime to destroy my family...I try to empower him with an understanding that as a child his job is to learn to be generous and patient. I want him to understand that not everyone will agree with one another and some people will lash out in anger when they feel small and threatened but that's no reason for him to do the same.
However, he had asked a question so I answered him " We are at war because we are trying to protect our resources but also trying to protect others from suffering but it's all very complicated...someone always wants to be right which means they tend to make someone else wrong. Instead of just allowing us to live in disagreement...we are too insecure and try to eradicate the people who don't agree with us instead of just being present with our own uncomfortableness."
It was a bit of a long winded and benign explanation,.
I didn't go into the politics and finances of the weapon industry, environmental insecurity or the history of colonialism that has influenced resentment.
I just wanted him to understand the basic human ego because it is the driving factor behind everything else.
But even with that fairly tidy and somewhat naive explanation, he said "That's just messed up."
And it is.
I don't have any big answers, either.
Considering the amount of tension and bitterness that can quickly swell into a fairly dramatic situation at the kitchen table...I can't expect that any us will ever get over ourselves at the same time.
I minored in Anthropology in college and what I learned was that civilizations keep repeating the same cycles of overconsumption, greed and self righteousness over and over even though every time it turns into an epic fail.
But we keep doing it, anyway.
Again and again.
We stick our heads in the ever warming sand with a belief that we won't suffer the same consequences as those who followed the same footsteps before us.
We are somehow better equipped THIS time.
OUR God wants US to succeed.
OUR land will never let US down.
OUR way is the right way....we won't starve, become ugly, mean or become what we despise.
I recognize that the wars we face are linked to so much more than I can explain.
Poverty, ignorance, prejudice, beliefs, resources...they all are parts of the chaos that we continue to struggle with as a planet and I can't fix this madness for him on my own.
But when I was younger, I thought my generation would be the one that dId.
I participated in a High School walk out during the 1st Gulf War and royally pissed off my dad but I thought it was worth it.
I believed that my voice mattered.
I handed out condoms and pamphlets regarding HIV and AIDS to strangers as part of an education program through Tucson AIDS Project because I thought that if people just had the facts then they would stop demonizing a whole group of people.
I volunteered for our school environmental group and tried over many family dinners to explain to my father that caring for our planet wasn't a communist conspiracy.
Information can be powerful.
It can wake people up from being ambivalent but it doesn't seem like it's enough, anymore.
I know that there has been progress.
Quite a bit.
However, I have a mental block to policies that are irresponsible or hateful.
I don't get religion.
I don't understand our attachments to oppressive beliefs systems...I have yogi friends who think questioning old practices and origin stories is arrogant so I do understand the blinding power of devotion and belief fanatics but I am finding myself feeling very hopeless.
Maybe, hope is just another blinding belief because after thousands and thousands of years there doesn't seem to be an awakening of consciousness globally.
At least that's how I'm feeling.
Lately, I've been drowning in the sorrow and rottenness of the world: mass shootings, racist rants, violence and ignorance seem to be the daily headline and it's so heavy that my body almost can't move anymore.
I'm tired and heartbroken with the world that I brought my son into, despite the goodness of my own life.
I'm finding myself falling into the same sort of defensive fear that creates the problems that have left me feeling so very sad.
Will change come?
I've spent my life with those planes and helicopters flying over my head and am fortunate that I still do not fear for my own safety.
My child is the same but do the children across the border have that same sense of protection from violence like mine does?
Hell, even the color of his skin gives him more of a sense of ease in our neighborhood then it does for kids not born 'white' or living on a reservation just miles from my home.
I'm not going to just 'Thank God' for my blessings because that's bullshit and it means I am complacent to the violence, the ignorance and poverty that permeates our planet but...
I want to help the world.
I really do.
I just do not know how to and I have to remember that I can't do it all by myself.