Letter: Remember the future
Remembering is a sacred act. Regardless of our feelings about a particular war or military service, Memorial Day invites us to remember the sacrifices of others and the intricate interdependence of life. Our country has a long history of men and women swearing the oath of service to their country, placing their lives on the line, literally and figuratively. Generation after generation has suffered the aftermath of war and the terrible damage done upon the hearts and minds of those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Though anxiously anticipated by many as a three-day weekend, a day of big sales in the shopping malls and barbecue, we should enter Memorial Day in silence and remembrance. It’s a day to slog through the mud of the battlefields, the searing heat of the deserts, the dripping humidity of the jungles and the icy snowbanks of wintertime battlefronts and to remember. We are meant to cry this day — to weep over the loss of American life, and all life, in the face of hostility and war. We are meant to honor and remember conflict, pain and loss — conflict that doesn’t have an easy fix or any fix at all. Something within us rebels at the notion of meaningless death, yet all the euphemisms glorifying the dead — “patriotic warrior,” “fallen hero” — only muddy the waters of truth of the hatred and suffering of war. Throughout history, widows and orphans became metaphors for the struggle for survival in the face of unjust situations. But they were and are tangible and real. No elevation of status, no mythological proportions romanticizing sacrifice, bring the dead home. Family members, friends and neighbors continue to mourn.
Remembering is an act of worship. Love is personal; war is impersonal. Terror and hate will always be part of our lives. The question remains: how to reconcile this harsh reality with a spiritual practice that is based on opening the heart and transforming our conflicts to higher, divinely directed energy. Memorial Day is an opportunity to look above and beyond a particular administration and its agenda, beyond the war of words, ideologies and political climate. Imagine, instead, a world where all governments, legislation, businesses and schools use an approach of compassion, generosity, love and justice for humanity and for the planet. Imagine the world as it is, the world as it was and the world that is to come — love being the only thing that can meet the depth of suffering within our being and without. May the words “Lord have mercy,” inscribed in the sacred writings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, be chanted again and again throughout the world, universally confirming our all-knowing. “Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by love.” — Buddhist dharma of Dhammapada