War and peace in the third millennium

An artist’s statement about peace building

Being born in Normandy, land of historic wars — Vikings’ invasion, religion wars and world wars to name a few — has left its mark on me. During the second world war, a great grandfather of mine who was a tailor got — expectedly — killed shortly after being sent to fight ; My paternal grandmother got raped by a German Colonel and delivered her daughter alone in a train, later the farm where she lived got bombed by Americans (who assumed some German officers were inside) ; my maternal grandfather signed up for the army for 5 years at 16 to defend his country but soon after, the war stopped, and he was then sent to fight in Indochina… My grandparents, heavily traumatized by the war, carried their trauma through erratic behaviors, abuse and neglect onto their children, who carried their own trauma onto me and my sister. Generations of humans traumatized by their ancestors’ war trauma. It becomes up to us to do the work so we can stop carrying such trauma onto our own children.

What does it say about the future of humanity on Earth?

War is still around. As the German philosopher Georg Hegel famously said, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” So what are we going to do for the future generations not to repeat and relive the trauma of their ancestors, for all those who are going through war right now: in Ukraine, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Mali, Afghanistan, Syria, and so many more countries. The current trauma will be carried over generations. What can we possibly do to change and break the patterns?

I believe a lot of conflicts and pain can be avoided if people’s hurt is properly addressed. Reconnecting to the true self, (re)building self-esteem and trust truly change people’s lives and relationships. It transforms societies and it elevates humanity. And by embracing our own light, we can show the path to others, too. The journey to myself felt like a long, rich, rewarding, but also painful experience. Yes, painful, but oh, so worth it! There’s been darkness and challenges, and priceless gifts like meeting beautiful humans along the road.

Sacro-Wi-Dance by Oscar Howe

Shortly after I arrived to the USA, I sang on New York subway’s platforms. It was an experiment that I felt spiritually guided to do. I stood alone in front of crowds of strangers, with just my voice and my soul. The rich, the poor, the black, the white, and all languages in between, the homeless, the lawyer, the old and the child, the student, the artist and the athlete… All of them were reunited by their emotion. Something happened within them, and between me and them, that words can’t describe. The homeless offered me their money, the rich their business card, the student their weekly metrocard. They had tears and chills through my singing, but I had tears and chills from witnessing so much beauty and love in humanity. It was probably the most humbling experience of my life. There is so much beauty to unveil in everyone. And I feel lucky and grateful to have experienced such feeling of wholeness with one another in the middle of the dirt, noise and chaos of the New York subway.

I like to think that singing saved my life and that music and stories gave me the strength to overcome obstacles and climb the mountains on my road. Through my artistic career as an opera singer, I considered myself a medium between an elevated consciousness and my audience. It was always my intention to bring better inner and outer peace by conveying emotions. I used my singing to soothe myself and others very early on. In fact, I often heard that my singing was like a massage. My voice brought tears to people, taking them out of their daily stress and back in the present moment, embodied, whole, and connected to others, too. I’ve seen how music can get the best out of people. Music, stories, performing arts, and in fact, arts in general, have the power to reunite people because they rewire us to our own feelings, and, in simple words, to our humanity.

I knew my mission was to serve humanity before I knew I was an artist. I think that, somehow, it’s because of where I’m from. Now a transformative artist, I strive to bring comfort and harmony, and to empower others through what helped me the most, sounds and stories.

To me, a better peace in the world comes with individual wellbeing and inner peace. When someone feels fulfilled, they tend to make the world a better place because happiness is contagious, and because they care more for others, too.

With all that being said, what can we do to break patterns? Four letters come to mind: CARE. Really care. Listen. Truly listen. And be there.

Thank you for reading this to the end. Thank you for caring.

Immersive concepts, creative music and restorative stories www.annacley.com

Instagram @TheJourneyOfTheHeart



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Anna Cley

Creative writer, interdisciplinary artist | Immersive storytelling