"I'm enlisting in the military." That’s what one of my best friends told me a few years back. It came as a total surprise. As a savvy peacekeeper, compassionate artist, and the girliest girl I knew, she was the absolute last person who, I thought, would join the forces.
And at the time, I was usually pretty offended by anybody even mentioning their support or involvement in the military.
My grandpa fought in World War II, and I will always be grateful for his service. But ever since college, I had been learning about U.S. intervention in foreign countries, sometimes wanted, most of the time unwanted, and I felt that my position against the military would never budge.
But things have changed since one of the people I love the most decided to serve her country in a way I once considered profane. Right now, as I’m visiting her and her Marine husband out in San Diego, I find their service profound.
And I actually feel better knowing that people like them are on the inside. Patient. Kind. Contemplative. The complete opposite of the stereotype I’ve always had in mind.
This experience seems like it would be very similar to an old man’s first experience meeting an amazing gay guy (anyone watch the first episode of Queer Eye?)
That’s how I feel. I was in the dark. Judging from afar. I didn’t even try to understand why people would support this institution. But now, I actually WANT to learn more about it because people that I love are involved.
This whole week, I’ve been learning so much about the hard work they’ve put in to get as far as they have, the dedication they’ve developed to stick through any situation no matter how difficult, and the drive to defend what they love most about our country: the people.
There’s a lot going on right now. Bombs being sent, women being degraded, and immigrants (who are sometimes just toddlers) being criminalized without giving it much thought.
But the more we can stick together, and trust that there are people working every day to make things better, the stronger we will be. This goes for police, politicians, teachers, business men and women, AND people in the military.
My friend says it perfectly, “Ultimately the goal is not that we fight for war, but rather fight for peace. And if we can keep peace in our communities, families, and systems, then we have won.”
You can fight for peace too. Without actually “fighting”. And yes, they say if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. But by holding your judgment back and trying to understand situations from all sides, you are taking a stand. And a very brave one.
Brene Brown once said, “It’s definitely messier taking a nuanced stance, but it’s also the heart of effective activism, critical thinking, and true belonging.” She also speaks about resisting the ‘divisive either/or framing of complex issues’, because that ends up having the opposite effect of what we really want: to unite people, come together, and make the world a better place.
So next time you think of pointing your finger, or judging a situation, see if you can find a better way to understand it instead. Just give it a shot, you might be surprised at what you find.
Kimberly Lucht is the founder and Executive Director of Rehumanize Me. She is an expert at dreambuilding, uncovering the common ground of humanity, and helping individuals realize their full potential.