How it began …
On September 11, 2001, I was six months pregnant and lived less than 5 miles outside of Washington, DC. My husband and I and our six year old son watched in disbelief the live television coverage of the collapse of first one and then the second Twin Tower, and we noticed even before the commentators when the video footage switched to smoke rising beyond Washington’s Old Executive Office Building (only a few blocks from my husband’s office) from what we would later learn was the Pentagon crash site.
Walking later to the park with my son – on that beautiful, clear September afternoon – I wondered at the swiftness with which the world could be so drastically altered. Suddenly, the fear, anguish, and horror violence brings to so many in other parts of the world had become real to us, to me. But even in that moment, I knew that I could not respond with more fear and certainly not with violence. Rather, my call was to promote peace, compassion, and connection without reservation or judgement.
I’m afraid I’ve been very slow off of the mark. The demands of life – raising children, helping parents, moving, volunteering – have kept me from following this call with the kind of dedication I had hoped. But it has never left me, and I finally now am ready to give it voice.
I’ve come to see that peace is deeply personal – and that the micro and macro are inescapably entwined. Because the human impulse is to react in kind, every hurt that we impose on each other has the potential to radiate outward, multiplying as it goes. Addressing the violence of our world – the result of countless generations of conflict and oppression, of atrocities committed in revenge or expediency, of cultures valuing domination and control – will be the work of many souls, many lifetimes into the future. But it is only possible if those who seek peace are willing to embody it in their every interaction, to demonstrate the value and beauty of peace, to bring others to it willingly, to model and build a culture of peace.
So Peace does begin with me ….. and you.
My dearest hope is that I can be part of a community and a conversation that strives for peace; a community not bound by religious or political affiliation, or by citizenship, race, class, or other delineations, but rather by a commitment to peace and compassion over fear, anger and force.
I’m just a mom – a daughter, wife, neighbor. I have many flaws, and I know our steps will be small. But it is with the first step that a journey begins.
Wishing that all may be safe, happy, healthy and at peace.
– Mary McGovern