Absolutely nothing!

pooot!, 11″x14″, marker and crayon on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

pooot!, 11″x14″, marker and crayon on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper

war’s dilemma, 11″x14″, acrylic and graphite on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

war’s dilemma, 11″x14″, acrylic and graphite on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper

War. What is it good for??!  Absolutely nothing….!”

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, as sung by Edwin Starr

Many, many suns and moons ago, I liked playing with toy soldiers, toy guns, and toy tanks. I enjoyed it so much that becoming a soldier was one of the dreams I had as a child. My interest in it was borne out of watching a lot of World War II movies on TV at that time. Even then, at a young age, I already knew that being a soldier meant defending your country by killing the enemy. And as callous as I may sound– yes, I’d always thought that “getting rid” of the enemies was a normal part of soldiering.
In my make-believe war games, I’d separate my toy soldiers into two camps: the first camp comprising the Filipinos and Americans, and the other one by the Japanese and Germans. Needless to say– and please excuse my scenario– a lot of the casualties lay on the second group. That was always the case. To me, that was how I’d win the war and do my job as a soldier: by staying alive at the expense of the enemy. In hindsight though, I realized I was totally insensitive to the challenges that a soldier would face daily in carrying out his/her combat duties. I hadn’t the slightest idea how each soldier must have felt after killing an enemy combatant or, even worse, a civilian! As a kid playing a make-believe war game, my conscience was oblivious to the moral aspect of war vis-a-vis one’s personal dedication to duty and faith. Not till many, many years later did I wisen up to get a grip on its harsh reality. And perhaps, even more apt, not until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes could I only truly begin to fathom the trying experiences these soldiers went through. That’s how I realized why being in the military is not for everyone and why some soldiers would experience PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after combat duty. Now, just imagining myself in their shoes, I am wondering as to how I would have turned out had I been alive already during the Second World War and– being an adult– drafted in the military to take up arms in defense of my motherland. Not that I would have said no and evaded it! I was just thinking how I would have fared: would I have been one of the early casualties of war, or one of those soldiers who lived to tell of its horrors? Ahh, whatever it is and for whatever war is truly worth, peace is always precious! And to achieve it– and keep it– in times of war, requires an even far more precious sacrifice: life. The irony of war is that lives are taken so that others may be spared. As such, it is much wiser not to take peace for granted and risk crossing over to its other side where death and conflicts reign. Otherwise, to get back to peace, one has to cross these conflicts anew. And I know for certain one will never be the same again once he/she crossed paths with war. Whichever side one is on, life is precious life no matter how one looks at it. It’s been said that if we didn’t learn the lessons from our mistakes in the past, history is bound to repeat itself. Sadly, we’ve been wrestling with this “peace” issue ever since, either in our hearts or on the battlefield or both– yes, struggling…ever since that fateful day two thousand years ago when an innocent Man had to lay down His life so that others may live!

kaput!, 11"x14", crayon and ink on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

kaput!, 11"x14", crayon and ink on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper


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Peace

precarious peace, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

precarious peace, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

This is a drawing that I did out of an idea I call “precarious peace.” It depicts two men of distinct stature in life, with nothing to offer each other except each one’s word of honor in their pursuit of peace. However, they do not really completely trust each other. And yet, despite the shaky foundations, both are willing to make a go for peace and shake on it.
True peace, while absolutely attainable, is quite elusive. One wonders at times if it’s from the heart or from the hurt. Is it attained before any harm is done or after vengeance is wreaked on? If it is true that “wars begin in the minds of men,” then peace must begin in the hearts of men! Wars, because they are motivated by reasons lacking in humanity, are often equated with hate and prejudice. If one was attacked out of hatred, the victim is expected either to defend himself/herself or get rescued by other people to prevent harm from being inflicted! To preserve one’s own life is a normal human reaction under conditions of hostility. And peace stops all forms of violence dead in their tracks! (pun not intended) While this may imply that peace only ensues when violence sets in, it’s not at all the case; peace has always been readily available for everyone who trusts in the Lord, long before any plan of aggression is hatched! My belief is that all of us are created complete in the image of our Maker– with body, soul and spirit! As such, we are all born good and that every single human being is given the gift of free will– that during the most challenging times in our lives, we make use of this gift by acting on choices that we deem right for our own good. The choices that we make ultimately shape our character– the root of who we are and the fruit of what we become.
We are given our spirit– that part of our being that is bathed in the Holy Spirit when we truly believe– to equip us to know, understand, and love God. But somehow along the way, because of the personal choices that we make, we ignore our conscience as a result of pride. We get snared by the whims of this world instead of embracing the grace of His word! However hard it is to feel “human” in times of conflict, the choice to turn every wicked thing around for the sake of peace is always there! For all Christians, this is made manifest in their faith in God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace! Every time one chooses God’s will, his/her spirit becomes one with Christ’s! Hence, all good things become possible! And as a Christian myself, I believe that my true individuality is the totality of my body, soul and spirit: I exist with my body, feel with my soul, and experience the grace of God with my spirit!

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
”  Romans 14:17-19 (New International Version)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9 (New International Version)

Where is the love?

Not too long ago, in the summer of 2003 in the U.S., a group calling itself “Black Eyed Peas” released a single entitled “Where Is The Love.” It would be the group’s breakthrough single– and it proved to be one of its biggest hits ever!

The song is about love and responsibility in achieving peace– love for our fellowmen and responsibility for our actions. What is very remarkable about the song are the lyrics. In the chorus, we can find the words “Would you turn the other cheek?” referring, of course, to the New Testament’s “Sermon On The Mount” by Jesus Christ. The reference to the bible verses can be found in Matthew 5:38-42 (as well as in Luke 6:27-31). In Matthew’s version, it says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” [NIV]

The song is very timely, now as it was then. Its message is universal, not just for the U.S., but for every nation! The world needs peace, if not for us, for our children.

Whenever I hear this song, I cannot help but move my head to its beat– to the sides, to the front, to the back, up and down. But mostly, I’m just nodding my head in acknowledgment of the trueness of the song’s message. This has got to be one of the best-written anti-war songs ever, hip-hop or not! Its social realism is dead-on!

I don’t want to be clueless and searching for answers when “people got me, got me questioning: Where is the love?” I can’t be answering “I don’t know” to this question every time. Because I know that deep in my heart lies the answer also: Love. And it has to start with me.

Where Is The Love?

by the Black Eyed Peas

What’s wrong with the world, mama

People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas

I think the whole world addicted to the drama

Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism

But we still got terrorists here livin’

In the USA, the big CIA

The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK

But if you only have love for your own race

Then you only leave space to discriminate

And to discriminate only generates hate

And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah

Madness is what you demonstrate

And that’s exactly how anger works and operates

Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight

Take control of your mind and meditate

Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach

And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us

Send some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love

The love, the love

It just ain’t the same, always unchanged

New days are strange, is the world insane

If love and peace is so strong

Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong

Nations droppin’ bombs

Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones

With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young

So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone

So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong

In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’

in

Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends

Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother

A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover

The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug

If you never know truth then you never know love

Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)

Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)

Where’s the love, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach

And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us

Send some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love (The love)

Where is the love, the love, the love?

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder

As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder

Most of us only care about money makin’

Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction

Wrong information always shown by the media

Negative images is the main criteria

Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria

Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity

Whatever happened to the fairness in equality

Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity

Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down

There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under

Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found

Now ask yourself

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Father, Father, Father help us

Send some guidance from above

‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’

Where is the love?

Sing wit me y’all:

One world, one world (We only got)

One world, one world (That’s all we got)

One world, one world

And something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)

Something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)

Something’s wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah

We only got

(One world, one world)

That’s all we got

(One world, one world)

lyrics credit: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/b/blackeyedpeaslyrics/whereisthelovelyrics.html