Helicopters were circling the battle zone. Army men were scattered all over the paper. Bullets were flying in every direction as the sermon droned on and on. Rostin, like many 5-year-olds, has found a way to stay quiet in church. Give him a pencil and paper and he's content. That day, tucked tightly under my arm, the blonde, brown eyed, miniature Brad Pitt, chose to entertain himself playing paper war. He assigned Grandma Linda to draw paratroopers, descending from the sky.
Just as I was contemplating his subject matter, his best friend, perky, 6-year-old Amanda, reached over with her pencil and added, right smack in the middle of the battle- zone, "I LOVE." Then, quickly, she drew two stick figures with a big heart in-between.
It happened so fast, neither Rostin nor I could stop the attack of affection. Well - now that was conflict. That act of aggression sent shudders running through Rostin that vibrated all along the pew. Her swift defiance of peer pressure was impressive, but so angered him that I feared he would do her bodily harm. I assured him in hushed tones that his war could continue. We just cordoned off the love part.
And so goes life. Isn't that what we do? Someone makes war and someone cooks up loving antidotes. Yes, and often we build fences in order to keep out one or the other.
For this sidewalk philosopher, that moment of love-shock set off all kinds of enlightenment. On the global scale, war is always somewhere and on cue, loving acts arise in response. This past week, the bishop of a church in Visalia, Calif., was murdered. Within a few short days, strangers are initiating fundraising e-mails to benefit his widow and six children. It's rhythmic, first the dark, then the light. We tie up yellow ribbons, send care packages, donate blood, pray and serve in totally unrelated ways as the exhausting conflict, between good and evil, rocks along.
A solid source of wisdom on this subject is M. Scott Peck, Ph.D., noted author of such bestselling books as The Road Less Traveled. He set about to study evil and, thus, created a sobering work called People of the Lie. The contents are so grim, it's a difficult read, but the last few pages reveal the secrets.
Peck contends that love is the ultimate healer, in the clinic and out. Of course, he's not the first to discover that truth or try to sell it to the selfish and the mentally sick, but we miserable humans need lots of reminders, beginning in our own homes.
This isn't a subject generally embraced on political or business fronts, nor on editorial pages. Love is considered touchy-feely - not scientifically reliable. Thus, evil has little interference in the very arenas where laws are crafted and controls are developed in regards to our nation, families and property.
But, this is what I know: Loving acts do have neutralizing power. Peck describes them as strong enough to contain and defuse "malignant energy." No matter our circumstances, if we breathe, we can participate. In regards to our current, national state of affairs, we can use massive, neutralizing doses.
But, there's a catch: It requires the highest level of our own behavior, almost impossible to sustain. Hopefully, someday, everyone will understand what the very clever and courageous Amanda already knows.
Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix television news anchorwoman who lives in the East Valley. Her column appears monthly. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.