After Reading Shakespeare with the Ninth Graders
Working as a substitute, I had 15 minutes and no lesson so I asked the 9th graders to write on Love and War after reading a passage from "Romeo and Juliet". I never ask my class to do something I would not attempt. Here's my 15 minutes with no editing. Such fun! Linked by passion, Love and War are siblings. The seemingly softer sister, Love, can be as cruel as her stronger brother can be filled with tender regret. The bond of the soldiers in battle can be as strong as the bond of a twenty year marriage.
Passing through the airport last Christmas, I was laid over with a group of soldiers just home from Iraq. So fresh to U.S. soil were they that there was still sand in their laptops. They hovered over images of IEDs on the computer screen. They were bonded in both their overt defiance of the opposing forces and their joy at having survived.
To the side there was a tiny black female private sitting on the lap of a lanky redheaded soldier boy. Their parting was as intense as the bond of the remembering crew but they were also tied by love, which was the stronger force.
As the plane was called, the boy and the girl left to their two families, one in New York and one in Texas. Uncertain as to how they would ever meet again, they passed futile promises. Their conflict in culture was as deep as their shared war had tied them. They held on until the last call.
As we walk our human lives, there are often things that bring us close only to reveal, at last, that our commonalities and our differences stand side by side. The white Christian Texan and the black Puertorican New Yorker had found a place of acceptance and more.
Perhaps that is the one way for me to reconcile Love and War. Through all the pain, violence, joy and betrayal, both of these are a part of our experience. Our mutual humanity is the bridge. In the end we all desire the bliss of Peace.