Saturday, July 22, 2006

Brat ramblings on a sunny Saturday

I have no idea how coherent this will be but felt the need to put 'pen to paper', and muse aloud. This morning and for the last few days there has been a thread on Soldiers Angels about the evac out of Lebanon of innocent civilians caught in the trap of the escalating violence there. I have contributed a couple of posts. My last one today (and for the duration of the thread), was my declaration that I can imagine a day when we ALL live in peace. I was taken to task, (not overtly) by another Angel who implied that dreamers like me would be hiding under beds as the rest of our troops fought the good fight. One thing became apparent as I read all the posts within that thread. War - and the reasons for ANY war - are never simple. It is not that simple to use the terms "them" and "us". It is way too simplistic to label our 'opponents' evil, and thereby justify war.

As a relative newcomer to the internet, it always strikes me how easy it is to assume anything about someone based on their words on a screen. In today's particular issue - the force being used by Israel as response to provocation by Hezbollah, it seems everybody has a strong opinion - and comes down firmly on one side or the other. I commented that it is way too easy to make assertions based on 30 second sound bites, without being well informed about the underlying issues. Of course, the role of the media is a never ending discussion, and I don't need to get into that here. Suffice to say, I AM a trained journalist, and yes - I am horrifed at the dumbing down of complicated issues by the media.

I have to wonder though. Just because I can imagine, dream of a world living in peace, does that mean I do NOT stand shoulder to shoulder with all of my guys? You know - the heroes I have daily contact with? Those in the front lines risking their lives because their Commander in Chief - from their respective countries - has ordered that? Every one of MY guys knows, as does anyone who knows me away from the internet, I absolutely support them without reservation. I do not see my support of them as a contradiction in my views on war.

I DO have an insider's view on the cost of war, and I was raised in a proud British military tradition. From kindergarten on up, all British children are taught the history of Britain's forays into war. I have been raised well aware of the price my family members have paid, fighting the good fight. My credentials in the measure of war are long and, some would say, illustrious. It is because of the people I have known initimately that I CAN imagine a world at peace. It is because of the tears I have wept - then and now - with MY heroes, that I can say, with no hesitation, that peace sometimes has to be fought for.

I have been blessed to work with children from war zones. The stories those children shared with me could fill a book or two. My work with any children has always been to create a world for them where they can be children, in peace. I have often said to my daughter how lucky she is to have been born in a country called Canada. And today we have Canadians dying on foreign soil so that others may know the peace our children have been raised with. We have British lads shedding blood in the name of peace. And yes - we have American sons and daughters, interrupting their lives, to lay their own precious lives down in the name of peace.

For me, the Vietnam war brought home exactly what price I would be willing to pay for peace. I learned first hand that peace is not always free. I have been in the trenches and 'watched' human beings kill each other. I have a dear friend (might as well be family!) who was in the Paras in Northern Ireland. We talk for hours of all that he saw, and what he lives with on a daily basis, thirty years on. I watched my father, a highly decorated WW2 hero, carry such a heavy load, until he could not carry it another day. Peace is not free for our heroes.

So....... an answer to my post of imagining, dreaming of a world of peace, made a glib throwaway comment about dreamers hiding under the bed, while THEY would be standing up for, and supporting, our troops. I could have gone on at length (not known always to be a brief brat!) about how to me it is not an issue of 'them' and 'us'. It is an issue of "we". I absolutely believe that what happens a thousand miles away directly impacts each of us. A while back I wrote a column prompted by one of my bratnieces. I had asked her what she thought needed to happen to bring peace to the world. Yes - she is an American, and yes, her family absolutely supports the President's War on Terror. This is a family, that IS family to me in all but genetics. Her response? Make sure everybody in the world has enough food to eat. Pretty simple huh? Any student of history knows that wars seem to break out when the economies are diving. I can't look at the children of Lebanon, the babes of Iraq, and yes, the children of the 70's Northern Ireland, without imagining what we would do to feed our children if it was us in those places.

To me it is way too simple to label those with guns as 'terrorists' and 'evil', even as I know they call us names like that too. I know there are no simple answers. I know this. But it seems to me that if we did, indeed, share the wealth available on this planet, to make sure every child was fed, one BIG reason for wars would go the way of the dinosaur. Is it an accident that Hezbollah was elected by some of the citizens who rely on them for food and schooling?

It is long past due, that we address all the underlying issues for war. Long past due when we dismiss dreamers, and others who are different. To me, it is not enough to say that those who yearn for peace will be hiding under the beds. For me, history shows that killing each other does not work. It IS time to search seriously, on a global scale, for peaceable solutions to the ills plagueing the human family. Will I be hiding under the bed? Not a chance. Will I continue to nurture, support every one of our brave heroes, in lands far away. Of course I will. And my heroes know this, just as my ancestors knew this, and my family knows this. I do stand wing tip to wing tip, shoulder to shoulder, with ALL who take up arms for an ideal world. At the same time, I WILL continue to pray for peace, even as I believe that global peace can only be accomplished if we once and for all get away from the "them v us" mentality. We are all family. Human family. God's family.

"Peace in the world begins with me". Swooooooooosh....


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