(This is a story that came to me in a dream. My hope is that you find a way to reach out to someone else this holiday season. Beth)
Once there were two soldiers on either side of a border guarding their country. They were in a remote area where few people cared to venture so their days were long and lonely. At first, they ignored one another or shouted insults across the border in their native tongues. But, as time went on, they began to realize the only company they had was each other.
Slowly they began to realize they had something in common. Both were fascinated by the behavior of the local wildlife. For hours they would sit in silence watching a squirrel gather nuts for the winter or a fox calling to her young. As the weeks passed, they made idle talk in a broken tongue borne from a meeting of two different languages.
“Why?” One would ask haltingly, “does a bird gather the feathers of other birds to build its nest?” And they would consider the matter carefully until they came to the same conclusion. “Because it makes a warm nest for the young.”
“How do you think they know when it is time to hibernate?” the other would muse. Which ultimately led to a discussion about God and the Universe. While one believed in a powerful God, the other believed in the power of nature. As they spent time discussing this, they eventually led to the conclusion that one did not cancel out the other. What you call something bigger than yourself is of no consequence. It just is the way of the world.
As they spoke over those long nights and days, they came to see one another as humans rather than the enemy. One a Socialist, the other a Capitalist.
One day the Socialist said in frustration, “you do not care about your people! You allow them to live in poverty with nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep! How can you do that?”
“The poor have the same opportunities as I,” retorted the Capitalist. “they just choose not to use them to make money. How can you live in a country where everyone owns what you have? Do you not see that you could have your own life and home if you only had more money?”
For hours they discussed how their lives were different. Eventually, it was revealed that, for much of his life, the Capitalist craved money believing it would bring him power and happiness. He liked the feeling of control he had when his pockets were full. On the other hand, the Socialist spent his entire life feeling everyone should be part of the larger plan and no one should ever be allowed to suffer without someone being there to help.
But there was also a darker side for both of them. While the Capitalist gathered money, he lost his sense of purpose. He didn’t know who he was without the money he had accumulated so he made more money to fill the emptiness. The Socialist, on the other hand, came to see that while he felt purpose in helping others, he was empty and sad as well. He was weary from giving and felt no one saw him for anything other than what he could provide. He had never had the opportunity to learn or use his gifts in exchange for something that would bring meaning to him on a personal level.
The two soldiers were stationed there together a long time. They each learned the others’ native language and knew intimate details of their home lives far from that border. They understood the fears and strengths of one another and of the places they lived. They began to build a new world together, where everyone was cared for and each individual was recognized for what they brought to this new world.
Finally, they were relieved of their duties at that border. Each went their separate ways and began to tell others of the world they created. While some refused to listen, most were eager to help them build it.
Revolutions do not happen on a battlefield. War is where dreams die a slow and painful death. Revolution and change begin when two people meet and seek to see the soul of the other. It is a gradual stream of hopes and possibilities that carry with it pebbles of determination. Jesus, Buddha, Muhammed, and many other prophets built entire movements on it. And, it all comes down to one powerful word, LOVE.