by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
July 26, 2006
GOD'S ON THEIR SIDE, BUT WHO'S ON HIS?
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- This morning in an e-mail to all our children, I mentioned it was my mother's 119th birthday. Her lifetime from 1887 to 1969 was one that included electricity, telephones, automobiles, airplanes, two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and then, actually, on the night of her last birthday, man landed on the Moon, in that "giant leap for mankind."
The lifespan of one child of mine has spanned events from President Lyndon Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty in 1964 and through the Moon landing, the "pill," the Beatles, the Vietnam War, the building of the World Trade Center and the invention of the Internet, all in a day-to-day life filled with more of the same.
There have been wars, race riots, terrorist attacks, political scandals, heartfelt moments and all kinds of crises around the world - all seen from the comfort of his own living room. He has witnessed advances in everything, but nothing as dramatic as being born in a candlelit room, attended by a physician who galloped up and tethered his horse, then brought his grandmother into the world to live a life where one day she'd see a craft settle onto the Moon, followed by Neil Armstrong stepping out and walking around.
Now, after all that, he's written his Mom a letter. I'd like to share it with you.
Mom, It's been 119 years since your mother's birth? That's something else, yet not a long time at all when considering The Big Picture.
What the heck is that, anyway? Have you ever stopped to think about it, or ask yourself why we're here? I get through some days simply thinking, "There's a reason for everything." That's nothing but a biblical rationalization, if you ask me, so I'm not surprised there's an entire book devoted to rationalizing the Earth and its bizarre goings-on.
I don't "get" what's happening in the Middle East. Sure, you could tell me it's because of this or that and that it's been going on for centuries. I get all that, but if I am having a dispute with my neighbor, I don't lob a bomb over the fence, especially when I know there's a chance someone other than my intended recipient, someone innocent - a child, even - could be killed.
It seems people on both sides of the border are the intended recipients. These people simply hate each other and nothing's going to stop that until they destroy themselves while the rest of us are left remembering these groups as hating each other and "look where it got them." They're choosing to hate.
Born loving, how do we go from cooing newborn to hateful warmonger, conqueror or wild-eyed terrorist? Jesus, this is just not right. I've always known that.
Why am I the only one? Why am I not wired that way: to hate, to want to steal someone's land by force, to kill someone simply because they think, or look, differently and all that? And after they get me, then what?
Do they start a peaceful society now that they've killed everyone they hate and have all the land? Or do they start on each other until one person is left curled up in the dirt, weeping, shaking and cold?
And then what?
I think the question, really, is this: Are we born loving? Or do we learn love? Do we learn understanding and tolerance? Five score and nineteen years ago, today, was the woman who would become my Nana born loving?
You'd think so, if you knew her, or if you know her children, her grandchildren, or her great-grandchildren or, I suspect, her great-great-grandchildren, those loving souls yet to be born. That's a long line of people, a long line of loving people.
It could be, though, Nana is the great-great-grandchild of someone who wasn't loving. Who knows? If that's the case, then someone along the line made a choice, a choice to tolerate, to compromise, to sacrifice, to love. Why? Because.
Nana, as Tom called her, was my mother, raised running across the beautiful green fields of Prince Edward Island, Canada, breathing the crisp air and swimming summers in Northumberland Bay. Marriage and motherhood took her from there to raise her nine children near Flushing Bay in New York City - hardly an acre of green fields and crisp air. But her joy and stalwart disposition created for us little city urchins a charmed life with a sense of ethics to thrive upon. I can't answer Tom's questions and I should be able to.
After all, I'm his mother. What's more, I can't find the answer to my own satisfaction. I've been mulling over what Father said at Mass last Sunday: Fighting in the Middle East involves Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The tenets of each of those faiths expect worship to one God and loving your neighbor as yourself. He didn't say it, but there was an unspoken "go figure" in the long silence that followed.
My question is: How can any of them believe God is on their side when none of them are on His?