Most if not all families become contentious at some point in their existence, with quarreling sometimes transforming into battling or causing family members to become alienated from each other. Some families live on this chaos. The disharmony that lies at the center of the Greco family is the basis for the novel, Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees. I wrote this book well before the civil war that now exists in the United States. As in the definitive Civil War, there are family members fighting against each other on both sides in this new conflict, which seems to have no foreseeable end. Like all wars, this one is fueled by greed. After all, there’s good money to be made from peoples’ differences. If only people would realize that no amount of money in the world will ever make them happy, that happiness can only be got from the inside, and that the outside is never enough. If only people who stopped talking to their brother or sister or daughter or father because of political differences would acknowledge that there can be no inner peace so long as fighting exists, that love is more powerful than fear if you let it be. Lastly, if only we could all see that peace is something that begins at home, within our own families as Silvia expresses to Vince in the following scene.
“Peace begins at home, you know,” she said, like some wise, old sage.
“Does it?” he said, as if he didn’t trust her words.
“Well, it has to start somewhere. It…” It was tough to go on so long as his face remained stubborn with his lips slammed shut and unconvinced eyes.
“How can you care so much about something like world peace if you’re not at peace with your own family? If you want to make peace in the world, you have to start at home.”
“I get along just fine with our family,” he said, defensively.
“What about Dad?”
“Who gets along with Dad?”
“What about how you can’t stand Doug? What did he ever do to you?”
Vince raised his eyebrows, smiled sardonically, and said “What did he ever do to me? How about what he did to the whole country? The whole world! He’s a criminal like all those Wall Street bastards!” He spoke loud and passionately like an Evangelical preacher.
“Oh, c’mon, Vince,” she said.
“It’s tough to forgive a bunch of criminals that are never blamed for their criminal activity. If anything, they’re rewarded for it.”
“Maybe he doesn’t really know the criminality of the system he works for. Ever think of that? He does seem naïve at times.”
“He’s highly educated. I think he’s wise enough to know the difference between right and wrong.”
“But can’t you, at least, give him the benefit of the doubt? And if you were not so busy hating him, you might one day have an opportunity to get through to him. And that goes for all people like him. How are you going to change the world if you can’t talk to people like Doug?”
Vince looked like he wanted to say something back but didn’t have a good comeback to this one. So, he just listened to the rest of what his suddenly didactic sister had to say about peace, love, and Wall Street.
“All I’m saying,” she continued. “Is that maybe if people like you could get through to people like Doug, we might not be in the state that we’re in. Maybe if groups of people didn’t hate each other and encapsulate themselves from each other the way they do, it might be a different world. A better world.”
Grace Mattioli is the author of Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These family drama books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.