Peace, And A Padlock

Sir Winston Churchill once said that “If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way towards one another”. 

But he still bombed Germany. After they started it, of course. Turns out that “one another” bit was crucial: it’s hard to behave peacefully and helpfully towards someone who is trying to take your homeland by force. Peace is a great idea, though, and a wonderful experience for those of us privileged enough to live in it. Since my home is in Europe, I’m thankful that our wars of the past century have stayed in the history books instead of boiling over in more bloodshed. Yes, the nations of Europe still fight with one another, but the fighting is now done over champagne in Brussels instead of the trenches in Somme. Still, we all have armies. 

Just in case.

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“I Feel Like I Need To Whisper”

We turned a corner, and the view opened up. From the porch of the ruined manor house we could see the cultivated gardens around the lake, fading into forests sheltered by distant mountains. We had to stop and stare. My ten year old son summed it up:

“I feel like I need to whisper. I don’t know why.”

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The Small Choices Shape The Big Ones

They say life is full of choices, and they couldn’t be more right. Every moment we’re awake, we’re making a choice of some kind or another: a choice to do what we’re doing instead of something else, to do it joyfully or bitterly, to notice the people around us or use them, to say something or not, to say it one way or another, to wait in silence or fill the time with social media, what to eat, what to wear, how fast to walk, how fast to drive, and so on and on and on. But in the midst of all this half-conscious choosing, a few choices stand out. We know them well. They are The Big Ones:

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Jeffery Epstein And The Failure Of Justice

Jeffery Epstein is dead. By suicide they say, although the details seem odd and the list of powerful people who could have been damaged by his trial is long. Either way, he’s gone. And the only reason anyone seems sorry about that fact is that it means his horrible crimes won’t come to trial, his many victims won’t get their public vindication, and his powerful accomplices will remain free. Epstein set up a large network for trafficking underage girls, and the long list of his crimes is dark and disturbing. I suppose there is some satisfaction for his victims in knowing that he was finally caught and is now dead, but those facts do nothing to pay them back for what was done to them, or restore the years and innocence that was stolen. The life of Epstein is a classic example of wealth and influence subverting justice. He should have been stopped in 2005 when charges first came to light. He should have been stopped in 2007 when the FBI prepared a 53-page indictment against him, yet somehow he got a deal and 18 months in prison, of which he only served 13. After that he lived in freedom, continuing all the same crimes, until just recently. And the many powerful men who participated with him remain free still.

In other words, justice failed.

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The Nutritional Relational Value Of Food (Why Our Family Eats Together)

There’s hardly anything more common than eating. It takes time, money, and effort, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it multiple times a day. In fact, we shape our lives around our need for food: companies and schools build lunch breaks into the schedule, holidays are celebrated with feasts, friends meet at coffee shops, and lovers woo over candlelit dinners. Clearly, there’s more going on here than simply keeping our bodies functioning. And don’t forget the gym memberships and diet programmes designed to compensate for our meals – you might say our relationship with food is complicated. Whatever else you say about it, though, you have to admit that food is powerful. Beyond it’s nutritional value, it packs an extremely high relational value as well (although it often seems that the foods with the least nutritional value have the most relational value, like ice cream and chocolate and cheesecake and pretty much every other dessert).

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Exotic Escapes And Ordinary Days

Summertime. The beaches are calling, and the exotic places of Earth are waiting for me to take a selfie with them. This is the season when we carve out time to put ordinary life on hold, put to-do lists in time out, and let responsibilities rest. For a few days, or a couple of weeks if we can get them, we are free.

…until it’s time to go home and return to ordinary days full of ordinary people and ordinary jobs and food and conversations about traffic and plans for the next holiday. Holidays can be so nice that they can tempt us to see the months and weeks of regular work in between as just a preparation for our next chance to get away. But what if all of this ordinary stuff in between is more than just a savings plan for another escape? What if it’s actually our life? And what are we missing by wishing it away?

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