War, what is it good for?

War, what is it good for? We need more compassion and understanding.

By Matilde Magrgo

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On a Seinfeld episode, around the earliest seasons, Jerry convinces Elaine that Tolstoi’s initial title for War and Peace was “War, what is it good for?”, and she makes a fool of herself in front of both her boss and a prominent Russian writer. The episode also involves one of those “antique” electric scheduling machines, I now forget the name of, falling on someone’s head and an intricate scheme, classical US vs Russia thing that’s been going on for what feels like centuries.

I think my first protest was for peace. I started early… I was about 6 or 7 I think… with the Tibet Freedom Independence movement. I’ve spoken about this in my articles, but I was born in China and was confronted with a very different reality than the one’s that are spoken about in the Western media. It’s quite a shock to realize, for most people that go there, that it is actually an amazing place to live. I consider myself quite lucky and privileged to be able to have that experience, of a childhood there. So, people in general only protest when things get really unbearable. I don’t really know the track number of which country wins protests but in all accuracy, at this point in time, the US probably takes the lead… in terms of commitment we gotta give it to folks in Hong Kong.

I still remember when Hong Kong was a metropolitan fairy tale, I actually spent a lot of vacations there in a quasi-tropical island. I basically remember being afraid of sharks and eating lots of banana splits. I remember the fish was really good also, and we could rent movies in a video store. I do spend a lot of time thinking about these memories, it was a different time.

I came to the West and somehow some magic was missing from my reality, I had a real hard time considering myself at home here, and sometimes I still do, when I start to question whether I’m an alien or just really paranoid. I kid, that was a long time ago. I quit drugs in the meanwhile and I feel human again.

So, when you travel to the East, you really don’t feel what I feel. It’s totally different when you were born inside the culture and lived the whole passage of past colonialism into what is the world as we know today. And it was only 20 years ago. The shame I feel for being caucasian (white is an overstatement, I’m not even considered Western by the West), for being a part of a culture that did the horrible things we all know, while supporting a myriad of causes that make sense to the future world, and making my part of a better tomorrow, it’s just something that needs to be dealt with.

I spent a month away from Medium because I couldn’t handle the whole white guilt, white shaming, generalizations and overall pessimism in general. There is a lot of good people out there who are trying to make a better world, and suffering a lot needlessly, and this needs to be said. I’m not, or any of my peers are, to blame. When we put shame upon ourselves, we live in the embarrassment of what the future might bring. We live with the need to constantly apologize for our mistakes, to fear a punishment so harsh that basically, we live in fear. And I don’t think that’s a world I want for my children, I never want them to feel guilty for other people’s past mistakes, I want them to be the good, empathetic people that they are in order for this world to have a generation that cares for each other.

That our generation does not, it’s not really news. We started to, we began the trend of making it cool to have empathy… I see my parent’s generation, they were the one’s who liked to party and their friends, loyal or not, are party friends. We discovered the meaning of friendship, and most of us has had to deal with addiction in the family from past generations or ourselves. But we also had to wake up for the harsh realities of what was left for us to deal, and I know a lot of people who cracked, particularly from lack of support.

One of the reasons why I quit alcohol, albeit later in the game than drugs, is because I do not wish by any chance that my kids inherit the insanity that plagued my family for so long.

Yesterday, I had a really big fight with my mom, and this time was different. I sincerely realized that the thing we thrive most for is the ability to care for each other and to support one another, even when others are in a bad mood. They can lash at us, and we can just say: I understand. It’s not that hard, really, it’s not.

One of the issues that I’ve been facing is how to deal with an aging past generation, taking care of her and allowing myself independence and enough resilience to take the things I don’t like and put them in the “I’ll be zen about it” bag. In the end, what will remain is the memories of how she came through when I really needed it and how she helped survive the worst period of this lifetime. I think one of the issues is this pandemic… we had to deal with each other for months and months with barely any outside communication. Talk about resilience. And we only fought twice. Talk about progress!

The parallel here is how we are being forced to face the real issues and how that should bring us more compassion and understanding towards one another. I was able to forgive things these past few months that I couldn’t even deal with some years ago. It’s quite an interesting turn of events.

I’m still recovering however, luckily, after the whole of the issues that plagued my life, the thing happening now is a release, a freedom from things I didn’t even realize were there. An awakening of sorts… (good God, another one?!)… This is good in the end, from all the horrible things happening now, and the worst of humanity coming to the forefront… I think the best of it is how community and empathy are rising to the occasion. I really think it will be possible for humanity to come together to save both ourselves and the planet and it’s ecosystems.

There is this kind of recipe that I want to write down:

1 large bit of empathy

1 large bit of compassion

1 large bit of forgiveness

2 large bits of accepting that sometimes, we all make mistakes.

And then mix it all together, bake that cake and save the world already!… it’s not that hard I think.

So, in this time we have together in this moment while I’m here with my dogs and cats, and you are there with your pets and love members, lets join together and ask ourselves:

“How can I help others and myself pass through this difficult period?”

Cheers.

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