--While sitting in the living room with my children this evening, I truly believed that after a short session of "zoning out" I would be putting my children to bed and heading to bed myself, maybe to read a book or a magazine... I must say that I was wrong. I never would have expected the following conversation to happen. It just goes to show you that some of life's more memorable moments can happen at any time and we must keep our senses perpetually tuned in for those moments.
--While blindly channel surfing, I quickly shot past the History Channel. It was easy to tell, even from just a mere tenth of a second , that some type of war show was being aired. Ethan, my 10yr old said "Dad, turn that back, what was that?" I turned it back and the bombs and the flashing and the gunfire made the rest of my children sit up and take notice. On the television in High Def was what appeared to be WWII footage. Before I even knew what was on, images of bloodied-up soldiers, and bodies on a battlefield shot out of the screen into the room... Instead of panicking or quickly changing the channel, I waited... I sat very still and watched for a response...
--Madelin, a 7yr old, covered her mouth and seemed disgusted by what she saw. I could tell she knew this was real or very close to it. Gabe and Ethan, almost simultaneously, asked me if this was a game of some kind or a war movie. I found myself almost mad, not mad at my boys, but mad at myself for the response my boys had. I decided at that moment that they needed to see a little bit of this, and they needed to know that war is not what they see in a video game. Don't get me wrong, I DON'T believe that violence in video games is inherently a bad thing. HOWEVER, I do believe that its up to the parent to teach their children the brutal difference between reality and game playing. After explaining to them the reality of what they were seeing, I let them all know that if they had any questions they should feel free to ask. The questions and thoughts I received are what inspired me to write this blog... We should all take note or at least try to re-capture some of that childhood perspective on things... I must say, they were fascinated by what they saw... Mind you, it wasn't all gruesome, just enough to give a little taste of reality to some eager minds... Actually, I commend the History Channel for tempering the savage with the day to day acts to tell the story of WWII veterans in a palatable manner.
--Gabe- "Who invented war? and "Why would he invent such a thing? and Is he in Jail now? because he should be?"
--Great question... We assume war is a natural phenomenon. Gabe, obviously, believes that war can't possibly "just happen" Maybe he's right...
--Ethan- "Why fix their problems this way? Why not play a game or something to figure out who wins? Why don't they play Call of Duty so they can do the same thing but no-one gets hurt?"
--When he told me his idea I could see that this really made sense to him. It was almost like he was saying, "Dad, if they need to blow things up, why not do it on the XBox and get it out of their system?"
I wondered if in the future borders could be drawn and treaties could be signed this way.
--Maddie- "Kids would never do this stuff... Our teachers tell us to be nice even if we don't like someone else"
--She said this after an image of a Japaneese child was shown. She didn't look at the child as an enemy. She only saw a child that, maybe, she could have played a game of hopscotch with. Another point to take from this - what happened to the simple rules are teachers used to give us? The world might be a much safer place if we all still observed proper playground etiquette.
--Its easy to brush off a child's comments about war as naive. Initially, I found myself doing that very thing.
"Well" I said, "They just don't understand the complexities that go into these matters, etc, etc, etc..."
Then I caught myself. I thought back to an interview I saw with John Glenn a few weeks back. In the interview he talks of a phenomenon that happens to alot of astronauts during their flights. Its something that in 90% of de-briefings is brought up in some fashion. When looking down upon the Earth from space, the first thing these astronauts notice is that there are no borders between countries. This takes them by surprise because all maps that we see in our lives tend to have brightly colored or demarcated borders. The point here is simple. We are conditioned to see individual countries as individual entities when in reality there is nothing there. Those borders are 100% man-made... Glenn made the point that most astronauts come back with a sense that he described as being "one-worldy". Meaning - you get the sense that we are all in this together. This fits within the context of discussion because, quite simply, borders are learned. We teach children where borders are. We have to show them where they can and cannot go. If they were to never learn about borders, is it crazy to assume that war might not happen? Obviously, there are other reasons we go to war, but the point is made. Maybe the perspective of a child on matters of war and violence is the proper perspective... Perhaps, we are born with the proper way of settling our disputes, but we loose are pure instincts as they are poisoned by a a more narrow minded set of views in adulthood...