War ends the values and traditions that produce [handmade] treasures. Nothing is maintained. Cultures that may seem as durable as stone can break like glass, leaving all the things that held them together unattended.
I believe that the craftsman, the artist, the cook, and the silversmith are peacemakers. They install grace; they lull the world to calm.
— Anthony Shadid, House of Stone
Knitters are peacemakers, too.
I love this quote by Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer winning American journalist with Lebanese roots. After working so long in one of the parts of the world where violence almost seems normal, Shadid hit on something very important here. Making things and creating beauty are ways to promote and spread peace.
Shadid focuses on the everyday life of his neighbors in the memoir, House of Stone, in which he tells the story of rescuing and remodeling the stone house built by his great grandfather before his family came to the USA and settled in Oklahoma. To be honest, the characters in this book could as easily have been Oklahomans as Lebanese and I think that makes the point perfectly. We are all the same, we human beings. Wherever we live, we are just people trying to make it through life with a little bit of comfort.
Knitters helps make that possible, just as the craftsman working on Shadid’s house and the artisans who created the beautiful vintage cemento tile he decorated with did.
It’s not just the things we make that are important but the understanding that the makers are all humans. For me knitting is a connection with knitters, with people. Through knitting, and other crafts, I relate to people who may seem very different than me on the surface. But through yarn and needles and stitches, I can begin a dialog with these people and start to get to know them. And when to get to know them, I will probably like them and maybe even love them. I am guilty of saying, “I hate people,” a lot. But it’s not the people I know that I hate, it’s the nameless, faceless strangers. And that is the root of all prejudice and most violence–thinking the people we don’t know are different than the people we do know. They’re not.
Let’s use knitting to strive for understanding and community, which will lead to peace? What do you think? Can we do it?
My book series Stories In Stitches™ is part of my effort to spread understanding and peace through knitting. To learn more and to read more stories like this, visit www.storiesinstitches.net. The first 4 books are available now. They feature knitting stories from “Around the World” and book 4 is all about “Knitting and Spirit” with stories about the spirituality of knitting from the perspective of many different faiths and traditions.