“I’m running a pilgrimage for peace around the United States,” I said in reply. The two men who asked were finishing up their own conversation, and saw me enter with suspicion and curiosity. I was at the Georgia Fruit Cake Company in Claxton, GA. Claxton is known for being the ‘Fruitcake Capital of the World’. “I have run for world peace from Seattle to San Diego, and now I am on my way to Savannah,” I added.

“How is that “World Peace” thing going?” one man said laying the sarcasm on thickly.

“Quite well, we are doing it right now,” I replied. “People fixate on when we aren’t peaceful as a species, but don’t take into account the fact that we spend most of our day at peace and in kindness.”

I continued, “Everyone is in a big uproar over the tragedy in Colorado, and rightly so. (As a side note, interesting that Columbine, Aurora, and Platte Canyon, and Littleton shootings all happened in Colorado—what is up with Colorado?). While the events are a tragedy, the relative peace of the rest of the nation isn’t taken into account.”

“Cinema has been in the US for over 100 years. There are approximately 19,000 theaters in the US, and 2,000,000 people went and saw Batman on that night, and all were peaceful and kind except for one. But we focus on the one because it is sensational.”

“However, 5 children a day shoot themselves. 1,800 children a year will die from guns. There are videos of kids shooting themselves by accident, but those never seem to make the news. It isn’t sensational…it is just tragic.”

“Bread and Circuses” is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. If everyone is thinking about bread and circuses…they won’t be bothering with the anything of meaning or importance. 1.4 Trillion to war, 87 Billion to education, but by the way have you seen the newest American Idol? Aren’t Kim Kardashian’s boobs big? A global sized shell game.

“In modern usage, the phrase “Bread and Circuses” is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes a supposed triviality and frivolity that characterized the Roman Republic prior to its decline into the autocratic monarchy characteristic of the later Roman Empire’s transformation about 44 B.C.”

If we are focused on people being killed in a theater in Colorado, we won’t focus on the fact that people, civilians, soldiers, women, and most of all children are being killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad, Rwanda, and all over the world.

I met a woman who summed up “Bread and Circuses” better than any in Louisiana. She said, “After 911, I felt like an American. After Katrina…I knew I was black.”

I often wonder how Gandhi never got frustrated. The world if filled with beautiful people, sometimes behaving badly. In my experience, all people are beautiful. What baby comes from its mother’s womb evil? What child wants to only hurt others? He or she must be taught that.

I get frustrated when I have trouble communicating with anyone. This morning I had trouble communicating with the man in the Fruit Cake shop. He asked me, “How old are you?” So many people ask me how old I am on this pilgrimage for a couple of reasons:

1. They are measuring their own age in comparison to mine. “So if he is 23,43,63…what was I doing at that age?

2. They have a set number of years which they believe it is acceptable to do something like I am, over that age I should “Grow up and get a job.”

3. Mentally estimating how long I can keep this up, like a race horse past its prime, or a female gymnast in their 20’s…oh yeah, he doesn’t have much time left.

I told the man, “I choose to be ageless and timeless.”

He replied, “OK, here we go,” as if say it was time to get your waders on, and a shovel out, because I was about to heap on a healthy dose of bullshit. As he made clear later, he wasn’t asking me how old I was because he was curious. He felt that by knowing my age, he would be able to sum my endeavor up, and then summarily dismiss me.

I continued, “Age is a limiting measurement for most people. They say things like “I’m getting old” to dismiss the difficulty of a task. If you have no concept of time you can’t be limited. I know 80 year olds that run marathons, and 40 year olds who can’t get off the couch. What then is age then but a mental construct to limit ourselves. What age would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? I choose to be 15, 25, 91, and 137 depending upon the day. No limits. We can do anything.

He then asked me what I do, and I replied, “I am an artist.” He asked what medium I work in, and I said, “I work in any medium clay, sculpture, photography, painting and drawing.” At this I could see the adrenaline coursing through the veins in his neck, and the skin-stretching taunt across his knuckles until they were white, ready for a fight.

He barked back at me, “You need to grow up and get a JOB!!!”

I replied, “What greater occupation could I have then working for world peace?”

“Loving the Lord Jesus Christ!” he spat back.

“Interesting, do you think that Joseph, Jesus’ father, said to him when he was departing to be an evangelist, “Grow up and go get a job?” I queried. “I, like Jesus, am trying to do the best I can to love my neighbor, the second greatest command. Where better to start than stopping war?”

“There can’t be any Peace until Jesus comes back, and then there will be peace for 1000 years,” he said.

“I often hear about this peace from Jesus. If he were to come back right now, what is the very first thing you think he would do to create peace? Why aren’t we doing that? Better to be, “…that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.” So many people are trying to save my soul from hell and get me to heaven. But I ask you, what will we be doing in heaven and what will be doing in hell? Heaven is where you sit around loving everyone, being compassionate and kind. Hell is where we accuse and criticize others and are unloving. At which are we working at here on Earth?

After the man left the owner of the establishment apologized to me for him saying, “I was just talking to him, well correcting him really, about his use of sexual harassment in the work place. Sorry about how he treated you. I guess you can’t win them all.”

I said, “And even if I had won, what would have been my prize? Either way the man is not at peace. My life stands in challenge to many who feel that they have done their “due diligence” to be the best person they can be. To find out at the end of your days that all you’ve been taught to do i.e. get a job, grow up, get married, buy a big house, have lots of kids, a trophy wife, lots of toys, and a fat bank account have left us feeling empty.”

“It is so depressing to find all you have worked for in your life hasn’t made you happy…hasn’t given you peace. It is often easier to just continue and try to indoctrinate others into the same. The idea of forsaking all that you have worked so hard for seems impossibly difficult. Changing horses in the middle of the race is difficult, but not impossible.”

“As such, even though he was unkind, sarcastic, and rude to me I have nothing but compassion for him. I forgive him. He is just scared. He is just lost. He is so afraid that he has backed the wrong horse.”

“As I’ve travelled, I’ve discovered that the people who are hardest on me for wanting peace and love are often the people that when push comes to shove are those who desire peace the most…they are just scared. Because of that they have my compassion.”