Thursday, July 06, 2006

What is It Good For?

How do I explain to my Child, War?

Eldest is becoming quite the reader, when he tries. It makes a mother proud. But there we were, in the Christian Book Store, even in the Catholic section, and he is deciphering a title about the United States and Militant Islam at war.

Eldest isn't the kind of kid that just drops the subject. He doesn't question what Islam is, he knows what the United States is. He wants to know what war is, why anyone would make war. He is six. What, in God's Name, do I say to a SIX year old?! How much do I censor myself? How much can he handle (more than I think he can, usually.) Do I let my politics color my answers or can I really be objective for just a moment?

"Sometimes people, governments really, disagree and cannot find a way to communicate about their problems other than violence."

Quizzical look.

"Like sometimes you and your brother disagree and you forget how to use your words or don't know what words to use to express what you are feeling and then you both get so angry and fight and pinch and bite. It is like that, sorta, except governments do that with guns and soldiers."

"Oh, so who are we fighting?" Oh, come on Kid! We are in the middle of a christian bookstore and we are diving headlong into geopolitical religious ideology soup.

"Well, that is kind of the problem. It isn't another country this time. We need to go now."

On the way to the car, "Why would anyone want war with the United States? It's a nice place to live."

"It is a nice place to live, and that is part of the problem, too. We are a very rich country."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that we are very comfortable. We have food to eat, safe water to drink, warm places to sleep. There are lots of people in the world that don't have that. Some people think that we are too greedy and don't share enough or help enough other people." I start the car.

"Can we listen to High School Musical, Mommy?"

So, he was distracted for a moment.
But you know that this is going to come up again. I want to tell him not to worry, it has nothing to do with him. But it does. He was only 15 months old when those towers came down. Here we are, five years later and my fear has only deepened. My fear is not personal safety, my fear is for my children and the world they face. These people whom have been entrusted with our security, our foreign policy, our future as a nation, they scare me. I know that it was decades of policies and hundreds, maybe thousands of years of ideological disagreements that culminated one autumn morning. Am I the only one that sees that the old ways of working out, smoothing over, ignoring these conflicts didn't, don't, won't work? Yes, I know there are dissertations being written, intelligence being compiled, codes deciphered to try to gain new insights. Countries are being dismantled, people tortured, families murdered, all in the name of making peace.

My lament is so much more basic, so much more personal.

What am I supposed to say to my child when he asks, "WHY?"


Anonymous said...

Ah Heather, mothers have been asking themselves just what to explain and what to shelter from their kids since the dawn of time. My godson is one smart kid tho to start questioning things early.. You know Tom was 7 when I moved back and he explained to me just what happened to the towers. It's exciting and scary to watch them grow up in the world today

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