Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Peace, Love & Peanut Butter

In February, we visited The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA for a blessing ceremony. While the 5 year old was out scouting the mud and poop in the backyard, our guide led the rest of us into the small room off the main hallway. It was filled with artwork, writings, and sculpture depticting the lifework of major figures of the peace movement (it was very moving I must say). After a few moments of us somberly gazing about the room, the guide pointed to a large oil painting on the wall and asked my two oldest kids if they knew who it was. My 8 year-old son (whose interests are exotic cars, traveling, anything French, not wearing socks, and ketchup) proudly recounted the biography he had recently learned in school and correctly identified Martin Luther King, Jr.

Excited by his "extensive knowledge" of world leaders of the peace movement (and eager for a chance to both further humiliate his competitive older sister and impress the growing audience of adults on the tour), he next confidently strode up to a lifesize wooden bust nearby. “I'll bet you don't know who this is,” he proclaimed, with just enough dramatic pause. “It’s George Washington Carver, the inventor of the peanut!” A momentary hush came over the congregation of adults and children in the room -- which was finally broken by poorly stifled giggles from our 10 year old daughter. My son was shocked to learn he was excitedly pointing to none other than the likeness of Mahatma Ghandi.

Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” While George Washington Carver said, “Life requires thorough preparation - veneer isn't worth anything.”
In the end, I suppose they are two sides of the same coin: while it’s easy to love peanut butter and hate veneer, I guess it ain't easy being a pacifist.

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