war talk

We had an interesting ride back from London, my husband and I.
Behind us, on the plane, there was a couple with three young boys, about 7, 5 and 3, their ages.
The eldest two were sitting right behind us with another passenger.
The boys’ parents were in the seats behind, with their youngest sibling.
The mother was German, the father – English.
The two boys were chatting passionately with the old English man who was sitting next to them, and thanks to our sleeping daughter, we could hear the whole conversation between the old man and the boys.
The old man was telling the boys about Malta, how it was colonised, what happened to it during World War II.
And then, one of the boys asked, “How come England won the war?”
The old man, not hesitating a second said, “well, because the Germans surrendered…”.

And that’s when my hubby and I looked at each other with the who-farted-in-the-elevator look.
Being an impromptu joker, he immediately plotted a little scenario where the little boys ask their father the question:
“So, daddy that old man was telling us about the war. How come you won the war and not mommy?”
“Well, my dear sons”, the dad would answer, clearing his throat heavily, “mommy’s people didn’t play quite fairly during the war, so, we kind of had to kick their butts a little”.
And because boys are curious little things, they’d go again, “but daddy, isn’t mommy angry with you because you won the war?”
That went forever and I laughed a lot, mainly because of my husband’s voice impersonations.
But the truth is, I felt lucky (not for long though, until the ‘sex’ talk comes with our kids), because we were such a conventional, boring couple, my husband and I.
And not that it’s any relevant who’s from where in any of that sense (as the impromptu conversation), but the thought of it made me think what it must be for the parents to have to explain, objectively, the facts of history, in cases like these.
I can only imagine if the family is made of a Palestinian mother and an Israeli father.
Or, the other way round.
What do we teach our children, then?
“Your mommy’s people were very mean and nasty, and my people were very nice and humble, but you take it easy son, you’ll be messed up one way or another, anyway.
It won’t be because of your background, don’t you worry.”

It really made me think about what we would tell our kids when the war talk comes, irrelevant of our backgrounds.
What do we tell them when they ask “why do people still fight in wars”?
What do we tell them when they ask “why nobody stops them”?
How do we prepare ourselves with answers for those questions, fair answers, when we, ourselves (the members of peaceful societies, fed and happy) don’t think of answering ourselves those questions.
Do we ask ourselves those questions, to begin with?

That’s when I realised, that it’s important that we keep the questions in our heads, even though we may not have the answers.
Asking would mean demanding from ourselves and from others to do something about it.
Once we stop asking, we stop caring.

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