Monday, May 13, 2013

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Peace

The majority of us yearn for the same peaceful existence and yet there is so much anger, criticism and judgment as evidenced by the commentaries and editorials in many news publications.  We all want to feel safe.  We all want to be free to express ourselves and live a life that matters.  Yes, we live in a country where free speech is accepted, but doesn't each well-intentioned person deserve the right to make their own choices without hurtful criticism, undue pressures and unreasonable expectations. 

As someone who was conceived through a rape, I am grateful that my mom allowed me to be in this world. Understandably, she was not able to care for me in my early years, so she allowed my grandparents to be my primary guardians. My life has had its share of challenges (haven't we all), but I have come to accept that every experience has shaped me into all that I am. While I recognize the hand of grace in my life, I also know that I have made some pretty good choices for myself. Yes, life is still about making choices.

As a mother, I have experienced difficult pregnancies and several losses. When I was told at 21 weeks gestation that the safest option for me would be to have labor induced, I chose otherwise. This was after hearing my baby's heartbeat and being told that it was strong and that his movement was good. If there was any possibility of his survival, I wanted to give him that chance. I am grateful for having that choice.

My preterm labor did progress on its own and this pregnancy ended. I experienced life-threatening complications, requiring several blood transfusions without consent. It was a life or death scenario and my doctors chose to keep me alive. I am grateful that they made that choice.

So where do I stand? I can't be "pro-life" without recognizing that life is about making choices and I am grateful for every freedom that I enjoy. I can't be "pro-choice" without realizing that every life has purpose and meaning.

Based on my experiences, I choose love, respect and truth. I choose to allow others the freedom to do what feels right for them and enables them to live their lives fully without malice to others. We can't judge another person from the outside looking in. It's also hard to know what the truth is when it comes to politics and personal agendas, so we have to choose to be guided by our own inner conscience.  And as human beings, we all make mistakes at one time or another.  The key is to learn from those mistakes.  We can't continue to make the same errors in judgment and call them mistakes.

Yes, there are people in this world who thrive on making others feel "less than" and fearful so that they can feel more powerful. Yes, there are people who take advantage of well-intentioned assistance programs.  Yes, there are people who threaten the safety of our world.  And yes, our politicians and leaders don't always get it right.

Still, the majority of us want the same peaceful existence. So it's up to all of us to find a way to restore peace. Life is precious and so is our time in this world. We can't just talk about change; we have to decide to do something about it.  How are you making a difference?  How are you using the power of your words and actions? 

As we pursue our individual happiness, my hope is that we can also keep our hearts and minds open. As Gandhi once said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."  Meeting anger with anger only causes more pain.   Our children also deserve a chance to fulfill their highest potential.  I trust that we can all agree on that as we do what is within our control to make a positive difference.

Sending love and peace to all,

Kathleen O'Malley

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