Vacuuming in the Sandbox of War


When I get upset, I vacuum the rugs in my house. I don’t have a lot of rugs, but I can’t stand seeing bits of this and that on the rugs when I’m freaking out. With the world blowing up these days, I take out my beloved Electrolux and vacuum every day even though it doesn’t need it. Other people turn to cigarettes or booze or chocolate, but vacuuming is my thing when there’s a war going on halfway across the world and I’m helpless. Vacuuming is a job with a beginning, middle, and end with results you can actually see. Clean, clean, clean. All done. Problem solved.

This evening when I sit in an old stuffed chair and drink Chamomile tea to fend off the demons of war, I notice a net of wispy spider webs connecting my chair to the wall in a corner where I skipped vacuuming. Spiders are such tattletales. And where there are spider webs, there must be a spider nearby, so ordinarily I would jump up, hunt it down, and squash it to death. With winter coming, spiders move indoors to my territory to claim a new home for themselves. But ever since my friend Joyce told me killing spiders is bad luck, I go through this embarrassing ritual of trapping the spider under a teacup, sliding an envelope underneath, and then I take it outside to live. Live another day in this world. How ridiculous is that, except in moments of weakness, other women have confessed they do the same thing. Mostly mothers.

Always women.

The other crazy thing Joyce mentioned is that in some religions, people believe that the spider could be the reincarnation of a dead relative. So, when I find the culprit who painstakingly built the spider web behind my chair, I take a minute and follow it across the floor, trying to figure out if it is my dead great-grandmother who once sat and drank tea in this house like me.

Photo: Steven Brown

And what about mosquitoes? I should ask Joyce or a Buddhist or a priest or the President about that kind of killing, which is really slapping or smacking the mosquito to death. Does that count? The mosquitoes that I slap to death are flattened into a dot of blood, but it is my blood that the perpetrator took from my body without asking. Does that count as killing?

There is good blood and bad blood on this earth. Good blood is the mess I saw coating each one of my babies when they popped out between my legs on their first day of being alone on this planet. It was the blood of life that fed them, nurtured them and helped them grow into a person, who from now on, would produce their own new blood to flow through their little newborn bodies.

Bad blood is what I see in war, and bad blood is also laced into the vile words of hate that I hear from so many people these days. The sounds of poison.

At the neighborhood park, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and even nannies huddle together freaking out and exchanging too many words of hate. Where does all this hate come from? A woman at the kiddie playground quietly steps into the sandbox to mediate a war about toys going on between two little boys. They are going fist o’ cuffs, and the woman, probably a mother, gently tells the boys to share the toy. When they still yank the toy back and forth, howling and growling, the mother whips out a second toy and says, “Here’s a toy for each of you”; and so they continue their day in the park, each peacefully playing with a toy for a while.

Photo: Markus Spiske

Maybe that mother should try this one out with our world leaders when the big boys fight over land, money, and power, always power, in the big sandbox.

 Her method is simple.

        “Some for you guys.”

        “Some for us.”

        Problem solved, if only the big boys would go along with it.

Our world leaders have had hundreds, actually thousands of years to stop the wars and the killing, so as my friend Martha Shea Smith says, “It’s time to put the big boys in the back seat. Let a woman drive this car now. Try it. See what happens.”  And not just any woman, but the sandbox woman, or a mother named Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of Hersh, whose arm was blown off by a grenade before Hamas kidnapped him.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin

Recently, she spoke to the world in a sad black dress of grief for her missing son, who is still missing. Her words rang out like a big gong in my head – her words were about hatred.

She said,

I understand that hatred of other, whoever that other is – is seductive, and most importantly, it’s EASY. Hatred is easy, but hatred is not actually helpful, nor is it constructive. We all know that war and conflict always, ALWAYS, end up hurting the innocent. And this is why war is so brutal and so very devastating. We see that everywhere in the world and everywhere in the history of our world. In the competition of pain, there is never a winner. We as human beings have been blessed with the gift of intellect, creativity, insight, and perception, and why are we not using it to solve global conflicts all over the world?

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Vacuuming in the Sandbox of War ultima modifica: 2023-11-07T09:44:45+01:00 da JUDITH NEWCOMB STILES
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