Swords and Tongues

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A politician and a warrior stood at a crossroads, a dozen paths laid out before them, each as convoluted as the next.

“I despise warriors,” began the politician. “A warrior will meet any problem he comes across with violence; raising first a sword before an olive branch. Though, I envy their simple existence. They act as though any problem can be solved by merely cutting it out. They claim this is the honorable way, but there is no honor in war; a lie told by those who wish it so. Nor is there mercy, as a warrior will end a life before it is set to end.”

 The politician’s companion sat in silence for a moment, pondering the former’s statement.

 “I despise politicians,” the warrior said at last.  “Whose silver tongues drip with honey as they twist the words of others to fit their needs. Politicians preach of peace through a paper trail of agreements and bargains; forgetting so easily that peace is an abstract concept. There is no honor in politics, where rather than confront a man face to face you would stab him in the back with a smile and a handshake, taking words sharp as knives to another’s reputation, destroying a life which must still continue on.”

The politician and the warrior gazed at the maze of twisting paths that now surrounded them.

“I suppose,” mused the politician. “That no way is ever entirely right.”

The warrior nodded, “Nor is it ever entirely wrong.”

The Man Who Collects Scars

by Kinsey Kunkel

img_20180708_181723I once met a man who collected Scars;

As simply as young boys collect baseball cards.

He had a face unlike any that I’d ever seen.

And His warm, kind eyes held a twinkling gleam.

He said to me, “Child,” in a voice like hot tea;

Soothing and gentle and special to me.

I said to Him, “Sir, I know not who you are,

But I can’t help but ask why you collect Scars.”

He smiled so warmly, and opened His box

And I saw what was no mere collection of rocks

He told me, “These Scars once belonged to my friends

But I took them away when my time here did end.”

“This one that you see is the Scar of Loss

And used to rule many a good man’s thoughts.

And this one here is the Scar of Fear

Owned by those to whom danger is near.”

“There are still more, too many to name.

Like Anger and Hate and Sorrow and Pain.

These Scars are no things My friends should possess

So one by one, each of them I collect.”

I smiled at Him then, at the Collector of Scars,

And noticed, at His waist, the strangest of jars.

It was a Jar full of Darkness, I could not deny;

A foul creature with the blackest hide.

I could not quite tell, if ‘twas shadow or smoke;

The man followed my gaze and then He spoke,

“I see you have found the crowning jewel

The one that the other Scars seek for its rule.”

“This Scar is called Sin, and I am its Keeper.

I bear the burden for those who are weaker.

And some day when this realm is flooded with Light

This Scar will fade ‘til it’s no longer in sight.”

“For light conquers dark, it has always been so;

And dealing in absolutes won’t change, don’t you know?

And above all else, what Darkness fears most,

Is the never ending Light of the world’s gracious Host.”

“Yet until the day Sin must relinquish its grip,

This Jar of Darkness will remain on my hip.

So run along home and never you fret;

When you find a Scar, I will come to collect.”

And so ends the tale of the Collector of Scars

Who has willingly burdened Himself with ours.

So I leave you to ponder, and never forget

The one who must carry the Scars we beget.

The Cynic and The Optimist

IMG_20170923_190257.jpgI have spent a lot of time trying to decide whether I am a cynic or an optimist. What I have found is that it depends on point of view I use to look at the world. People always tell you to look at the big picture, but looking at things from that point of view can be very overwhelming. I look at the news and see the terrible things that are happening all over the world and find myself feeling so very hopeless. The decline of morals and honor over the past few centuries is unbearable to think about.

No matter how I look at it, I do not believe the world is capable of change, at least not in any way that’s good. People who spend their lives trying to change the world are slowly killing themselves. They are fighting an unwinnable war; living an unfulfilling, fruitless existence to achieve nothing lasting. The “world-changing” movement hinges on philosophies that start with the phrase “if only.” If only people would be nicer…if only people got along…if only we all shared the same beliefs, and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is; there will always be someone who isn’t content living the “right way” because people are innately evil, born with the same selfish desires.

The way of the world is corrupt and complicated. Our society is monotonous. Everyone lives virtually the same life. The American education system is flawed and wasteful. All of the above are completely accurate observations of this planet. Looking at the world from this perspective, however accurate it may be, can be very unhealthy. Dwelling on the truth can be as exhausting a burden as trying to fix a shattered world.

When you look at things from a smaller, more intimate point of view, a happier world is not that hard to see. Simple things like driving with the window down, conversations with the ones I love, playing video games with my brother; these are the things that make life worthwhile. Seeing the beauty in the little things leads to a sense of indescribable tranquility.

Perhaps our society is flawed and monotonous when you look at it from above, but seeing closer up you can see the details that make each person’s life individual and different. Perhaps the world can’t change, but people can. You can’t change the world, but you can change a life. Be there for those around you, expose people to the light of God and treat others as you would like to be treated. Not everyone will appreciate it, not everyone will comply, but each individual person matters. It’s not about thinking of the big picture. Everything can become this meaningless mass. Look a little closer and it all becomes so much clearer. I don’t know if this makes sense, I don’t know if you agree, but it sure makes the optimist look more powerful than the cynic.

Family Vacation

Every fall break, my family and I go to the beach. Typically, we go to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. I love the small town feel of the island and the relaxing break from school it provides. It has been a gift, especially this year with Science Fair at school, to get a break from all the stress. One of my favorite places on the island is the Stoney-Baynard Ruins, once a grand antebellum plantation house overlooking the Calibogue Sound. As someone who loves history, standing in the middle of a place so old and historic gives me chills. The house was burned down shortly after the end of the Civil War, and to be able to walk through what was once a bustling plantation house gives you an incredibly wistful feeling. There is also an enormously twisted tree that my brother and I enjoy climbing that gives you a wonderful view of the ruins. Every time we go to Hilton Head, we have to visit this eerie place at least once. There is a sense of wonderment you feel in a place so old and tragic that inspires you.