Essays

You are here

The Old Woman

Imagine an old and gentle woman, near death, with both hands on a rusty musket, standing alone at the edge of a field in which every rock and rise are as familar to her as the ceiling cracks in the farmhouse crouching behind her.

Imagine her eyes, barely able to see, trying to focus on the dust raised by a few so-called soldiers trudging across a nearby hill. Caught in conflict, driven to a final extreme, she waits unsteadily, frightened most by her own decision to do this, confused by the rumors that have drifted through her village for weeks, yet somehow ready to defend her land and her surviving grandchild with what is left of her life.

We - you and I - have put her there, for we continue to tolerate what is wrong and destructive to ourselves: what is greed, what is injustice, what is violence, too often resulting in war and famine and ragged flight. We foster these things, in fact, by not demanding their end.

Do we not care enough - or truly notice - that we are letting our lowest instincts succeed while our highest ones dangerously idle and slide, diminished so often by mere contentment and myopia? All the while these finer sides of our humanity insistently remind us that we ride this Earthome together and that we must take care of each other, no matter who, no matter where, no matter how, long before we force this aged woman to fire her gun.

- Tony Balis

Filed Under: