Starting Point
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Issue Date:  June 2, 2006

Starting Point


“Look, Mom,” my daughter Evelyn called as she peddled past me down the sidewalk. For the smallest flicker, her hands let go of the handle bars. For the next half hour or so I watched her ride back and forth, each time trying, for a little longer, to let go of her tight grip. She adjusted her posture, sat back a little, trusted her ability to balance and allowed her body and the bicycle to work in unity. Slowly she was able to give up needing her arms for control and finally she glided past me, hands in the air, and flashed me a huge smile.

This past November we went as a family to the School of the Americas protest at Fort Benning, Ga. Evie spent the weekend wearing a button we had picked up from one of the vendors. It had a simple peace dove across it with the words, “Look Ma, No Arms.” As I watched her riding her bike in the summer sun, I couldn’t help but see her efforts as a hint of how we as a nation and a world are supposed to try to reach for peace. Can we adjust our posture a little? Are we capable of trying to balance, letting go of our tight grip on our need for our arms (or armaments) to control? Is it possible to see ourselves in unity with those around the world?

As I watched Evie practice over and over -- sometimes with her eyes squeezed tight, I knew she was imagining what she had to do to succeed. Einstein said that imagination was more important than knowledge, and Sr. Mary Evelyn Jegen in her book, Just Peacemakers, said, “Creative imagination can play a large role in effective work for justice and peace.”

Is it possible that with practice and more practice and a willingness to imagine a world of peace we might actually succeed? Maybe in some not too distant future we can call out with joy, “Look Ma, No Arms!”

Christina Zaker lives with her husband and four children in Chicago.

National Catholic Reporter, June 2, 2006

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