I grew up as a young boy in Grand Bend, Ontario. In the summer, I spend almost every day at the beach, as did many of my friends. Grand Bend is a popular beach town and lots of people came from all over to enjoy the sun, sand and scenic coastline. And so, my friends and I had lots of opportunities to meet other kids from other places.
On one occasion, a couple of my friends and I met a few other kids from, I don’t know –somewhere else. At first the meeting was rather congenial but somehow, one of the boys (our side or theirs, I don’t recall) playfully picked up a little sand and threw at the other party. I’m sure it was done playfully and our reaction was to laugh, and then… well then, what did we do? Adults use the word “retaliation.” Soon enough battle lines were drawn and we were all throwing sand at each other.
Of course, dry sand doesn’t throw well, so both parties quickly opted to scoop into the water and pick up handfuls of wet sand to chuck. And then things started to turn ugly.
I don’t know which side started this part, maybe both, but the wet sand started to include pebbles. And when they hit bare skin – it stung! And so to “up the ante” we started using bigger pebbles, and all pebbles and no sand!
Finally, the war escalated to the point where some of us were picking up rocks in order to ensure a victory.
Thankfully, before anyone could be seriously injured, either participant or bystander, a woman who had been sunbathing nearby got up and yelled at us. “What’s wrong with you boys? There’s kids around here!” (We knew that because we were kids). And then she yelled out “STOP IT!!” And we did. In fact we scurried away in different directions.
As we ran away from the ranting lady, I’m sure each side of that skirmish likely claimed the victory. But the truth, as I see it now, looking back, is that none of us won.
Instead of meeting and making new friends, we found our pride prodding us to get the best of one another. And some of us had some bruises on our legs to prove how foolish we were. A fun day at the beach that became a foolish fight.
I reckon that adults are not really much better in this regard. Arguments, spats, anger, fighting even wars. stem from our pride that prevents us from enjoying peace with others. Instead of wondering “Who threw the first stone?” perhaps we would be better off not throwing any stones at all.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Peace takes work and intention on our part. What do you do in your every day life in order to be at peace with others?