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Today a dear friend of mine sent an email forward with a video of Trace Adkins and the West Point Cadet Glee Club performing “Til the last shot’s fired” at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Words spoken by the warrior who introduced them have stayed with me: “Please consider that it’s not about the war, it’s about the warrior.”

The words in the song are from the perspective of the dead calling us to pray for peace so that they may “lay down [their] guns” and go home. I know I’m taking this to an extreme by thinking that tired, fallen warriors wouldn’t call for an absence of war through the powerful voice of Trace Adkins on a stage such as the Academy of Country Music Awards to set their spirits free with a semi-fallen warrior asking us to pay attention to the warrior if the wars “out there” were anything other than a reflection of our wars within.

Once again I revisit Chief Joseph’s declaration to fight no more, forever. With the deepest respect for the women and men who’ve died and those putting their lives on the line right now, I can’t help but ask everyone, “us”, to examine our hearts, to look for the places within where we will not forgive or where we hold on to right and wrong. I have my own inner bruises and wounds that I choose to lick, so it is with awareness of the depth of the challenge that I ask myself, and you, to consider that it’s not about the war, it’s about the warrior. In one way or another we are all warriors–what are we fighting for?

Is it worth it?

I had a conversation with a friend today about warriors, which naturally included the concept of wars and fighting. Aren’t we all at war in some way? Children are fighting on the playground, adults in the boardroom, parents in the bedroom, gangs on the streets, friends and lovers on Facebook, numerous groups in numerous forums, and each of us within our own hearts.

What are we fighting for? Equal rights? Freedom? A clean environment? Safety? What we want?

To prove we’re right? Good? Important? Valuable? The best?

One of my teachers says there is no “them” out there; there is only “us”. Us at war with ourselves.

I know I have inner conflicts and competing desires and values. I wonder if our experience of war and fighting of all types is an outer mirror of our inner wars…and how long it will take before “we” will stand, as Chief Joseph stood 132 years ago, and declare, “I will fight no more forever.”

What will it take?  How much destruction are we willing to exact on ourselves and others? How much pain are we willing to endure?

     As long as we believe in an us and them…
     As long as we fear rejection…
     And reject forgiveness and love.

August 2017
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