Why do the nations so furiously rage?

Studying global relations (law and economics on an international scale) has been full of many lessons I wish every person could learn. Not yet done – but here are just five things I’ve already learned, in Tell-It-Like-It-Is style (i.e. I’m not using fancy phrases, okay, I promise).

  1. There is absolutely no reason for wealthy, developed nations not to get along. There are many excuses (most of which center around the need to “protect” or “isolate” the individual country from the global marketplace), but there are no reasons. In times of plenty, we should not be greedy – we should be gracious. In times of strife, we should not be aggressive – we should be thoughtful. In short? We should work together and base decisions on reason – not emotion. Insert book suggestion: Al Gore’s Attack on Reason.
  2. You are born where you are born, and there’s nothing you can do about that. So, when I have a discussion with one of my colleagues at the Institute as an “American,” I am aware that I am not a superpower. I was merely lucky enough, and I was very lucky, to have been born within the borders of a superpower. We don’t discuss things as countries, we discuss things as humans. We bring our expertise to the table, but the overall discussion is global. What’s good for the world will be good for humanity.
  3. Religion has absolutely no place in when discussing geopolitics. I mean exactly that. The singular reason to discuss religion at all, in serious global discourse, is for the purposes of determining geographical areas of prosecution and intolerance in regard to human rights. There is no place in geopolitics for one’s personal religious beliefs or preferences (coming from a devout Catholic).
  4. Negotiating truly is an art form and this is why. Negotiating needs, at least, two willing and able participants. To be willing to negotiate means one is willing to be vulnerable, humble, and open. To be able to negotiate means one has been given a proxy or authority to do so. Imagine how many times a day world leaders do this without our knowledge? So, if there is hope this can be done countless times every hour, there is hope this can be done (WTO Members, I’m looking directly at you) once a day. Negotiating keeps war, poverty, strife, collapse at bay. It is the entire ballgame, but rests securely on both criteria being fulfilled.
  5. The worst times in Switzerland to hold discussions about international policies are the following: just after lunch, when there is a major news story unfolding, if the sun is shining in the city, if there is snow in the mountains, or if there is no more wine on the table. This leaves a great window: when it is raining, the carafes are full of a good Humagne Rouge from the Valais, and there are men AND WOMEN at the table. This is ideal.

Gotta love Handel and the Bible…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNcZgu9yFjU They make my point for me.

Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem

I am thrilled to sing this great work again. The text is quite relevant, in light the current events we face. I hope each of you might find time to read it.

Better still, please listen to it. It will heal any sorrow or fear you have, if only for a moment.


Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
(Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, grant us peace.)

II. (Walt Whitman)

Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows – through the doors – burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet – no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field, or gathering in his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums – so shrill you bugles blow.

III. Reconciliation (Walt Whitman)

Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly, softly,
wash again and ever again this soiled world;
For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead,
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin – I draw near,
Bend down and touch lightly wih my lips the white face in the coffin.

IV. Dirge for Two Veterans (Walt Whitman)

   The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finished Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking
Down a new-made double grave.

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-keyed bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding
As with voices and with tears.

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums
Strikes me through and through.

   For the son is brought with the father,
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans, son and father, dropped together,
And the double grave awaits them.

   Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumined,
’Tis some mother’s large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.

   O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

V. (John Bright)

The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings. There is no one as of old … to sprinkle with blood the lintel and the two side-posts of our doors, that he may spare and pass on.

Dona nobis pacem.

(Jeremiah 8:15-22)
We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!
The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan; the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing
of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land … and those that dwell therein …
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved …
Is there no balm in Gilead?; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter
of my people recovered?

VI. (Daniel 10:19)

O man greatly beloved, fear not, peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.

(Haggai 2:9)
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former … and in this place will I give peace.

(Adapted from Micah 4:3, Leviticus 26:6, Psalms 85:10 and 118:19, Isaiah 43:9 and 56:18-22, Luke 2:14)
Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
And none shall make them afraid, neither shall the sword go through their land.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will go into them.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled;
and let them hear and say, it is the truth.
And it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues.
And they shall come and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them,
and they shall declare my glory among the nations.
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me,
so shall your seed and your name remain for ever.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.

Dona nobis pacem.

The Importance of Fathers

The steadfast love and care of one’s parents throughout life is a luxurious consolation.

I have learned from many people over the years to add the disclaimer “luxurious” because I have known many who were not fortunate enough to see one parent don salt and pepper strands of hair.

Two such people are very near and dear to my heart: my grandfathers.

Before both men entered adolescence, they found themselves in households without their fathers (lost to illness). I never heard either of them speak of their fathers. Never heard one of the mundane references I so casually throw around to my nephews about “my father.” I saw one picture of Granddaddy’s father and I’ve never seen a photo of Pop’s father. I remember, as a child, I thought childishly (Pop would tell me to correct that to “unknowingly”) that both grandfathers were probably too sad to talk about their fathers.

As an adult, I see things differently. I think both men were not only sad, but profoundly so. The only way to eradicate that sadness was to be fathers. To be strong, consistent fathers.

In 1919 and 1921, respectively, Rowe Jackson Ayres and Horace “Hap” Vaughan were born into truly exceptional circumstances and times. By no means, were the Vaughans of Virginia nor the Ayres’ of Hutchins so-called “elite,” and both households struggled through the Great Depression and the looming fear and ultimate reality of WWII without their paternal leader. More lovers than fighters, it has always been difficult for me to imagine the terror they felt when the news of Pearl Harbor reached them. I would imagine, it would be a nice consolation to discuss that with one’s father. They did not have the luxury.

The years between 1929 and 1945/or so without a father, it’s really something. Without the guidance of a father to say, “Son, glad you’re back from the War in one piece, I’ll call Jimmy to help get you a job” or “Son, I’m proud of you for being at Pearl Harbor” or “Son, stop drinking so much Coca Cola, you’re getting fat and you’ll shame the family.” (That was an inside joke with my Musical Grandfather.) They had brothers and strong mothers (they had to be strong), uncles, friends that were like family. All that. But, no “father”s.

Oddly enough, one would think this might lead to a lifetime of alcoholism or inconsistent career paths or failed marriages or something truly debaucherous. All of which, they could happily blame on their “dead fathers” and “horrible lot in life.”

Nope. Both men spent their lives in constant, life-long devotion to their children, wives, and the companies they served. Even at their ends, both men did not want to die because they did not want to leave their children.

They were also steadfast servants to their country. The Greatest Generation did not need to talk about being great, they just were.

I see, however, the effect their fatherless childhoods and adulthoods had on them. Ultimately, it produced two of the finest fathers this world has ever known. A small part of me has to ask – was part of that the lack of a father’s presence? The knowledge of how profound and pivotal that lack was? Both Pop and Granddaddy knew, “I will be there every step of the way for my son/daughters” as a result?

Because they were.

Even my childhood felt like a childhood with a father and 2 bonus fathers because they were there for me, the granddaughter, every step of the way.

I think this “hands on” fathering had a serious effect on my brother and I hope that continues through to the Ayres Little Men. If it had to begin from little RJ and little Hap losing their own fathers, well, I would prefer it had not been so. I wish I could change that for them. But, then again, there is literally not one thing I would have changed about my grandfathers.

Granddaddy WWIIHorace Vaughan during WWII

PopRowe Jackson Ayres, Sr.

My mother has just told me a rather interesting story (via Skype) about my maternal grandfather and my father. Apparently, one day at our family home at 21 Robledo Dr., the kitchen sink was clogged. Granddaddy came over (my father was not the engineer that the grandfathers were) to fix it. Instead of merely fixing it, Granddaddy showed my father how to fix it. For me? Perfect example of how Granddaddy was already adept at being a father figure. I love this story.