Monday, October 12, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Kill - Mother's Protective Pacificism & Innocence

Mother was a stay-at-home homemaker, both her and Dad's choice. She had a delicate nervous system and was subject to prolonged deep depressions, but my deepest, ingrained memory of her was her "grizzly bear" protective pacifism.

Never calling attention to herself, Mother was gentle, innocent, quiet and soft-spoken, raising her voice only to make a point when all else failed.

I remember how shocked she was when Dad and I would talk "shop" after I joined the business world. She was totally amazed people would outright lie on credit applications, shoplift, write bogus checks, or in my profession, deceive me into selling them codeine cough syrups requiring a signature, after they and visited at least 10 other pharmacies, or "dropped their bottle in the toilet" to get a refill earlier than legally permissible. It only took a couple of tricks before I called physicians about these stories..

Mother once commented, "I don't how you can work every day and contend with crooks!" Of course, everyone was not a crook, but, as is human nature, Dad and I talked about the bad ones, a few of which we mutually knew.

No doubt, of the Ten Commandments, the most important was #6, "Thou Shalt Not Kill (KJV)," despite other Scripture to the contrary. Some versions are translated, "You shall not murder."

Because of her belief, discussion of violence, justified or unjustified, was common in our household, as we grew up. What about wars? Hunting for food? Capital punishment? Euthanizing animals? Swatting flies and stepping on spiders? Inquiring minds want to know!

Of course, there were Biblical images of a wrathful, avenging God, wars of total annihilation of life and livelihood, the Cities of Refuge, and "an eye for and eye, a tooth for a tooth" edict.

It was another 'Tis a Puzzlement" from The King and I musical.

Married in 1920, both were high school graduates. Dad attended a regionally known business college in Abilene, TX. Both had strict Christian beliefs, albeit, differing doctrines which eventually were reconciled as one.

Mother may have always been a protective pacifist; I'm sure it intensified when they adopted a daughter (me) after 10 years of childless marriage. After two years they had a biological son, followed two years later by adoption of another daughter.

Other than discipline, Mother abhorred violence in any form including child's play, children's toys (BB and water guns, cap pistols, toy tanks, soldiers, etc.), sports and some sports equipment like baseball bats, news stories, TV crime and Westerns, any weapon, even if it was a household utensil--knives, forks.

Somehow discipline in the form of "paddling" was not included in the definition of violence, and did not end in killing or murder, although I knew how to scream "bloody murder!"

She dutifully read the Biblical stories, many of which are violent and scary. How pacifist is being swallowed by a whale?

Dad never went on hunting trips with business clients, relenting to her worry of accidents and her aversion to killing or murdering life with respiratory systems.

I remember her weeping when Dad came home from a tour of an army camp near our hometown, Camp Bowie. The camp was a training camp and interment center primarily for German POWs .

Periodically, Camp Bowie held "open house" to showcase its training procedures, one of which was navigating a mine field. Dad regaled he successfully navigated the "unarmed mine fields", except for one. The image of his being blown to smithereens was too vivid.

Another side of Mother was seen less frequently. If her husband or children were maligned unjustly she became a frightening grizzly bear in her protective mode. No one spoke badly or unjustly of her family; impugning the family reputation was tantamount to murder.

In the serene environment siblings were never exposed to domestic violence, loud arguments, flying utensils or life-ending threats. Yes, parents had arguments and disagreements but not in front of us. If these arguments ever involved us, none of us knew. Further. whatever the disagreement concerned, when it was over, it was over. They always presented a united front.

There was never opportunity to "play" one parent against the other.

In retrospect I know we siblings were blessed to have wise, unselfish parents who did not need Dr. Spock to create a safe environment of refuge for the family unit.
PHOTO - Mother and Me. This is copy of a studio setting known as the MADONNA pose. It was sepia toned in this copy but Mother had some tinted, too. It is hard to imagine no cameras, no color, no Instamatics. My brother has Mother's earliest know camera, a Kodak Box camera.
Post Script: Today was a Public Memorial Service for our Harp's Food Market Manager murdered last Monday. It was beautifully conducted with over 200 in attendance. I left my Life Group meeting early to attend this service.

One of my favorite hymns was sung a capella by a local musician. In my funeral singing days this was a favorite selection (I sang alto).

These days it is still one of my old time favorites for any occasion, and a great song of comfort and on my list for my own funeral of only music, reading of obituary and friends commentary--absolutely no sermon.

Read the inspiration for this hymn, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL or history, story and musical performance here or here, and probably 100+ other places on YOU TUBE.


Arkansas Patti said...

What a beautiful picture of you and your mother.
She sounds like such a gentle soul. Often this world with its inborn violence is so hard on the gentlest of hearts. Would that we could all feel that way, you would not have had to attend that funeral.
Hope you all can start to heal now as a town. My prayers for the families.

Dimple said...

I was very interested by this post. Your mother sounds like a wonderful woman.
Thank you for the link to Wikipedia. I have been a Bible student for many years and was interested by the discussion of the cities of refuge. I have other thoughts, which are neither completely in agreement nor completely in disagreement with what was given in the Wikipedia article; I believe the Bible explains itself, if we take the time to dig. But hearing what others have thought frequently gives avenues of exploration.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

My mother hated violence too. My sons started deer hunting early and while I am opposed to killing deer, I never stopped them from engaging in hunting. I guess I was a grizzly too when it came to my children but I was never one of those parents who thought their children could do no wrong. I believed mine would do whatever they thought they could get away with!I belived in strong discipline, I got my bluff in early and kept it there! They never got into trouble or on drugs and they turned out to be terriffic adults! The picture of you and your mother is priceless!

Lorna said...

I know people like your mother, who really, really live their beliefs. My own mother and father were both fierce at it.

NitWit1 said...

Thanks for comments. I need to add that before Mother used her grizzly bear protection of the family name, we were thoroughly grilled to be sure we had not invited the insinuations.

The Cities of Refuge were always an intriguing part of the Old Testament--not much detail. I always thought if I lived there I might be looking over my shoulder most of the time.

Yes if all the parties involved in the tragedy in my town had been more pacifist it might have turned out differently. What if the manager used less inflammatory words to discipline the asst. mgr? Would it have made a difference? We will never know...

Dimple said...

On the subject of violence, another blog I follow posted this today:

Thought you might be interested.

Liz said...

I will have to come back and read properly: just calling in to say, 'Happy Birthday!' Hope you have a wonderful day. x

Amber Star said...

Today is your birthday?? Hope you have a wonderful day!!

Gosh this post was full of good information. Camp Bowie is just west of here a piece. We have a street named Camp Bowie, but I didn't ever really know exactily the story you told. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I sort of remember people telling stories about Camp Bowie, but I probably thought they were talking about our street. My mother was born in Brownwood.

The picture of you and your mother is beautiful. I guess that syle had gone out of favor by the time I was born in '44.

Teacher's Pet said...

I love the photograph of your Mother and you....very beautiful.
I also went to an earlier blog and looked at your photographs. They are very beautiful, too.... I had to smile at the poison ivy photo. I didn't know that the leaves turned such beautiful colors. I began to itch just looking at it, though.:))
Smiles to you from Jackie

faye said...

Thanks so much for stopping by
my little blog.
I would be lost without my computer. And you build your own.. how impressive is that... WOW.
Love your photos. I'll be back later.

boots said...

what a beautiful life! And your picture is very special, thank you for sharing it. I am curious, what is your "life group"? But I dont think that any words can make a man pull a trigger. The violence came from the mans heart.