Today's Bloomingdale's ad in the New York Times had sugarplum dream gifts under $100. The exclusive "Peace, love and Bloomie's set of six socks" for sizes 0-12 months runs $28.
My immediate response was, "Peace doesn't come because someone writes it on socks! Peace takes...." Well, you fill in the blank. You read PeaceSigns. You don't need this spelled out. But we all know peace doesn't come because an infant is wearing it on their socks, or we'd have peace spilling out in the streets. How trite can people get?
I have lots of peace stuff. I like my peace stuff. My family and friends show their support for my work by buying me a multitude of things with "peace" on them. (Note to family and friends: This IS sincere! Don't return anything!)
But... sigh. Peace doesn't come because we read it countless times a day. In fact, with 30,000 additional troops heading to Afghanistan, it doesn't seem as though it comes at all. When will we ever learn? My brain was jumping up and down in protest as I looked at that ad. Get to WORK people, I thought to myself as I gazed at the Bloomingdale's ad. MAKE peace! Sacrifice!
And then my eyes drifted to the counter where with great delight I had unloaded a box of web-ordered Christmas gifts that morning. And...I swallowed hard, shook my head and grinned a toothy grin...staring back at me gleefully were two pairs of socks (<http://shop.thehungersite.com/store/item.do?itemId=36573&siteId=220&sourceId=220&sourceClass=StoreSearch&index=1>) for some of my favorite young women...with peace signs all over them! Guilty as charged! (If you look, the price has even gone down. Don't miss the Peaceful Cleaning Expandable Sponges <http://shop.thehungersite.com/store/item.do?itemId=39458&siteId=220&sourceId=963&sourceClass=Category&index=22>.)
And you know what is worse? The day after President Obama announced that the United States is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, I did just what President Bush said to do after 9/11--I went shopping. I scoured the web looking for Fair Trade gifts from Afghanistan, doing my weak and trite bit for development rather than deployment. As a result, my friends and family are getting earrings from Afghanistan <http://www.oneworldprojects.com/products/afghan-jewelry.shtml> and ornaments with the word peace in a Persian dialect for Christmas. And believe it or not, when I heard the first troops were arriving today, I ordered even more ornaments!
Do I judge myself as harshly as I did the people buying trendy baby socks that say peace? Or have I tasted enough of judgment to realize it also doesn't bring peace?
Certainly peace is better to see on a baby's socks than hate or a skull and cross bones. I am giving the ornament to people in the hope that they will pray for peace in Afghanistan each time they see it. Perhaps a parent changing a diaper or kissing toes will also remember to pray for peace when they see it on the darling designer socks. Who's to say?
Mostly I'm remembering the handout we did on Afghanistan <http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/afghanistan_bin_11_09.pdf>
and my strong belief that development brings peace, not troops. If I hadn't wanted tangible things so much, I could have donated in the names of my friends and family to Mennonite Economic Development Association <http://www.medatrust.ca/give> and Mennonite Central Committee <https://donate.mcc.org/project/global-family-afghanistan-help-afghan-children>, who both do excellent development and education work in Afghanistan.
But something intangible happened to me today when I stroked the ornament from Afghanistan, putting my fingers in the same place the woman who made the ornament did, tracing the word peace in a script I can't read. Something ripped my heart, my prayers and my life. It wasn't cute and it wasn't trite. It was a bit hopeful for the women who made the ornaments and are more financially stable and educated than they were. And it was a bit of strengthening of a commitment to work for peace and justice.
If you haven't read about the advent conspiracy, enjoy the website and video! <http://www.adventconspiracy.org>