How Do We Avoid War?

The Everyday Battles That Hold the World Up

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Red Hat Culture Red Hat Culture
| July 22, 2022

Here’s to all the fighters.

The war in Ukraine shook me out of my stride and reminded me again that the world we’re all building is fickle. I am reminded that the peaceful Norwegian countryside I grew up in came at a cost, and no peace will last unless we hold it up. And that it has been held up by the wars waged by those who came before us.

But when I say wars, I don’t necessarily mean to paint pictures of heroic tales of battles and fury — leave that to Tolkien.

There are unsung heroes that need to be sung. There are crowds of people who fought before the war ever erupted. The ones who cherished peace enough to take on the tiny, daily battles against their own greed and selfishness, and chose to mean something to others.

It is a travesty that we so easily look in admiration on the big, the successful, the impressive. All the while, we are living in a world held up by those who simply show up.

Having worked part time in a kindergarten back in the days, I always think about those winters. We dressed three to five kids each to go out and play in the snow. And then a few hours later undressed them of the wet mittens, heavy snow boots, and soggy overalls — just to hang them to dry in preparation for the next day. And this we repeated. Every. Single. Day.

In the midst of all that work (winter clothes being only one of many tasks), the teachers still had the peace of mind to actually care for the children, listen to them and give them complete focus.

This has always impressed me. People who do their work with intentional care for others.

To me, the kindergarten teachers are war heroes — one shining example among countless others who choose to approach their everyday life with care, and to work hard with what’s in front of them.

This is what builds our peace — the war before the war.

You don’t have to wait for war to be a war hero

It is not to be glanced over that a peaceful society still can be ravaged by a great, vicious force. So maybe working for peace is a hopeless cause all along. But the truth still stands, that if the vicious force had been busy at war with their own shortcomings instead, there would be no blood spilt.

The truth still stands, whether anyone picks it up and wields it or not. So here’s to the ones who wield the many faceted plowshare-swords of peace.

Here’s to the dads who put down time, intention and care, to raise their sons to feel loved, strengthened, and aimed towards some worthy purpose. None of that happens without them waging war on their ego, restlessness and fear of failure.

Here’s to everyone who takes a grip around their mental health, and carry on forward to work on their deep rooted problems, instead of drowning the symptoms in addictions. None of that happens without a war on shame, hopelessness, and mistrust.

And a solid portion of gritty grace to get back up when you fail.

Here’s to everyone who refuses to hold on to bitterness, and decide to live graciously after disappointment, wafting winds of warm kindness into the cold corners of culture (yes I tried to be poetic — maybe too hard). None of that comes without a war on pride and unyielding justice.

I know that none of these came for free — because I, like you, have felt the cold temptation to turn my war upon others instead of my own ego. To sit down and give up, and to begin blaming others for the roughness of the world.

And I know the cost of getting back up.

Stories unending

This is why I am so passionate for the driven individual. Somebody who has their eye on something, and is pressing towards it. We seem to be wired for war, so finding something constructive to fight for is essential for peace to subsist.

Not only do you quench your bitterness and resentment in the fire of a passion, but you also contribute positively to society around you. And thus we craft peace with our hands and our words.

Behind each human face is a story and a fight. The fight is theirs, but the story is for each of us to hear.

I am inspired by Emeli and Mathias who left Stockholm city to heal from burnout and set a new healthy standard for themselves and whoever may hear their story.

It is not nothing to put health before career, and be willing to leave everything in order to become a new person.

I loved hearing the story of Monica, who has channeled her innate fierceness into mountain climbing, where she has carved our a space to go live and be free — and a place to conquer her fears.

She brings back hauntingly beautiful imagery to the rest of us, so that we can dream of one day conquering mountains like her.

Mountain climbers.
Monica conquering Mont Blanc.

I love how Marsden Brewer lived such a contented life that his son wanted to follow in his steps, and now they farm shellfish together, and feel all the more blessed for being together.

Fathers engaging with their sons is incredibly inspiring to me as a father, and I have no doubt that this kind of relationship builds our future peace.

Marsden Brewer on the job.

Factorium — the place of doers and makers

The name Red Hat Factory came to me in a dream. I’m not trying to be poetic or anything, it’s just true.

And I thought a lot about the name. Why do I call it a factory, when we’re literally the opposite. We hand knit in Norwegian homes. We don’t do factories.

But then one day I was scouring the internet for the meaning of words (a common pastime of mine) when I came across the meaning of the word “factory.” It comes from Latin “factorium” which means a place of doers or makers.

My heart jumped when I read it.

I’ve always been passionate about reading, hearing and telling stories. It does not matter much what it is about, as long as the one sharing the story is passionate.

Even this brand has grown out of a desire to share the story of our Norwegian culture, the mountains that I love, and the childhood I received. And the wool that knit all those parts together. To me everything is a story to share, and as the brand grows, I will want to search out stories more and more, to be able to put more faces to the everyday battles that hold our world up.

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Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on July 22, 2022 in Red Hat Culture
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.