I do not consider myself an overtly political person. I formulate my opinions and investigate the issues and if asked, I will probably give a truthful answer of what my thought are on hot topics or views. My demeanor is to try and learn within the dictates of a neutral position, until it is necessary for me to speak up. I speak up when I witness situations, either directly or through other relatively reliable sources, and I know that something is very wrong. The news these days is particularly frought with completely crazy drama. I am not going to spend time in that realm as it has already been discussed, synthesized, analyzed beyond what I could add to it.
What brings me to tears, on sometimes a daily basis, is when children die. Last night I saw footage of dead children. They were described as just young children walking to school, in what had become a war zone, casualties of missiles and attacks, supposedly aimed at soldiers on opposing sides…except that these were children, not soldiers and they didn’t do anything wrong. My breath is taken away, and the tears roll down my cheeks and I feel a sense of helplessness and the depth of sadness, as I recognize that something has gone very wrong. There is no numbing out of feelings when it comes to children dying. I could turn off the pictures and the sound. I could choose to listen to something else, something pleasant and familiar but it wouldn’t change what is happening whether I bear witness or I don’t. In a country I will never visit, in communities of people I will never meet, I will still cry for the parents and grandparents and families. I will cry for the loss of a life, of the possibility of that child having the experience of growing up and knowing the world. I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of battle and war and what winning means and what losing costs. I only know that as a grandparent, a parent, a member of a family, that to lose a child as a “casualty” of war will never be something I could ever come to accept because it is unacceptable.
Being lucky in life takes on new meaning as time progresses. Having the company of people I care about, and who care about me, makes me feel lucky. Having plenty of food and a more than adequate shelter, a a peaceful existence, and intellectual stimulation and the ability to travel safely to and from my work and beyond makes me know that I am lucky. A simple life includes music and books and the ability to learn new things, through my own experience or through the teachings of others. Despite the normal frustrations of day to day interactions and obstacles, the sense of purpose and resolve allows the day to end and the next day to begin with a sense of certainty. Not so for children caught in the midst of war. The rules do not apply. There is no luck or guarantee of much. As parents and grandparents we worry, as that is hardwired at the moment you become responsible for another human being. It has no end date. It is perpetual for as long as it is possible. I shed the tears and then I get really angry. I cannot accept this situation and I wonder if I was more “political” whether it would help. My father who studied economics used to talk about war as the conflict between the “haves” and the “have nots”. It seemed like a simple construct that if I didn’t factor in the humanity, it seemed like something that had to occur to continue to build reasonable civilizations. I often wonder how he would view the world today, having been a refugee, an American soldier in World World II, a business man, a parent, a grandparent, a child. The first war that my generation was aware of was the Vietnam War….it was in our living room nightly. My father did not shelter us from seeing the numbers of casualties across the screen. He didn’t explain who was on which side. We were expected to develop our own views. Here we are again, except that in the last 50 plus years , I have no clearer understanding of what happened then and what is happening now. The media and the journalists explain things and it is subjective. I cry because I will never reconcile why the children, just walking to school, didn’t get there.
Be peaceful this weekend and smile at strangers since we never know everyone’s story.