One summer in 1963, my family moved to the tiny island of Guam. This island is only 30 miles long and 4 miles wide at its skinniest point. You can round the whole island slowly in a Sunday drive, with picnics and swimming included. The island was nearly surrounded on all sides by beautiful reefs teeming full of life (back then)

My father was stationed at the Naval hospital base as Hospital Administrator in Agana Heights. We lived high on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean and the populated city of Agana in a cement duplex within the Navy compound. When get got there, we were issued a trunk with kitchen ware to use and return when we leave.

When my father announced this move to us, as children we thought of the most primitive setting we could think of, thatched roof homes and sparsely clad natives. We were wrong and found a fairly modern island for that day and age.

My sisters and I were enrolled in the catholic school down in Agana. I was in fifth grade, one of two classes there. The majority of the class was Chamorro, the native mix, and there were only three of us ‘white’ folk in the class. Our teacher was a tall slender nun, also Chamorro. Our instruction was all in English for the most part.

Breakfast was a delight there and a rare treat for me. For twenty-five cents, you could buy the largest cinnamon roll ever made, nearly three inches square, creamy, sugary, exploding with cinnamon! Cooking them permeated the whole school with fresh bread and cinnamon aromas. (twenty five cents was alot of money back then too!)

One day both the fifth grade classes marched in line down to get breakfast, and on this day my father had handed me a quarter; I was so excited to get a hot cinnamon roll. The aroma of cinnamon was so thick in the air as we stopped just outside. We quietly stood in line. I was standing between twin boys. The one in front of me was in my class and a calm sweet boy, while his brother was taller and very aggressive and was from the other class.

Today he was pushing me in line many times. I would fall forward on his brother, who would turn around and just look at his twin. He pushed me again yet this time saying “Laka mumu” several times.

I had learned a few basic works in Chamorro but had no idea what he was saying to me in this mean tone.

I looked at the school wall, wondering and there I saw an Anole lizard.

I turned around and looked this brother and repeated what he said, with a twist “Laka mumu letai”. I pointed at the green lizard, hoping I said the right word for lizard. I did.

This boy looked at me, looked at the lizard, looked at me, looked at the lizard as his face shifted with his thoughts.

Now I felt like I was in trouble big time. I had no idea what he said and I complicated it more with adding “lizard”.

Then he stared at me. His eye brows moved higher on his forehead and then, he began to laugh loudly. He repeated what I had said to him several times and his twin turned around and also started to laugh. Soon the whole line was laughing, and I was smiling, still wondering what the outcome of this would be.

This aggressive boy then looked at me deeply and smiled and shook my hand and put his arm on my shoulder. Whatever it was I said, turned the tides it seemed.

We all recieved our cinnamon roll sat doen to eat them, and the room got very quiet, except for the muffled sounds of umms and aughs.

I later found out he was challenging me to a fight, “you want to fight” or something like that. So what I said back was perhaps, “you want to fight {with} lizards”. My girlfriend Maria told me this. I had made a friend that day. He protected me the rest of the time I was in that school.

Now some may say that was just pure luck, others destiny, and yet I look at it differently.

Here was a human just wanting to be seen as who he was, Chamorro. I was the “invader” to his country, a country that was always being invaded, and even persecuted, and so perhaps I was a threat. He was testing me; would my aggression match his? Or would I like him?

Wake up world, I am a silly person, I am a kind person, & love art and nature. Aggression was for art, not for use towards people. Lizard was just there and with a creative thought I added a humourous element to a situation that could have ended up hurting me.

How one reacts is key in all situations. Attitudes fuel the reaction.

On national levels, this is also true. That peace can be had just through attitude and reactions.

Instead of aggression, perhaps a bit of ‘turning the tides’ through helping another country with some of their needs.

Instead of matching one attitude, give the attitude that builds rather than breaks down.

~ Carolyn Thompson

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