My son recently asked me a question regarding war which took me by surprise. This caused me to pause and reflect with deliberate thought, I was needing a moment to formulate my answer. Trying to reference the context of the question, I looked to the program in which he was watching on the TV. Inglorious Bastards. Col. Hans Landa – a cunning, sly and sadistic character whose deeds done for the Nazi forces have earned him the title of “The Jew Hunter’ – had just finished interrogating a French farmer and proceeded to shred the raised floor with bullets in attempt to murder the hidden Jews beneath……… “hmmmmmm not the best show to be watching’ I thought as I changed the channel.
“Mom, how does a person go to war?” Such a heavy question with no simple answer. He stood there with innocent eyes waiting patiently for my “educated-mom” answer. Long gone are the simple masked answers that once quenched his thirst for knowledge. The option of “On a plane” just wouldn’t cut it. This boy was asking me a serious question expecting a simple truth. Knowing the context in which had caused him to ponder such a concept, I replied simply and with caution.
Our conversation went as follows;
“In taekwondo, what does Mr Martinez teach you? If someone comes up to you and punches you in the head, or kicks you to inflict pain or even worse tries to attempt to kill you, would you just stand there and take it?”
“No. I would defend myself as that’s bad. Those are mean people who do terrible things. I’d punch him in the head back, only harder.”
“If you were walking down the street and seen someone attack your friends trying to hurt them or kill them, would you just stand there and watch?”
“Of course not, they need help. I’d kick their butts.” He smiled with a devilish grin.
“Like people, countries are attacked by another countries or groups of bad people. So war is declared when that country stands up for itself or stands up to defend another country that is a “friend.”
Somewhat satisfied, I could see him think. Those who know him understands that when my son is deep in thought, who you can almost physically see him process information and formulate a conclusion. He’s much like his uncle Tyler.
“Are we at war right now?”
“No. But as Canadians, our military is “sticking up” for friends (for the lack of a better word) in other countries.” Honestly I answered not really knowing the truth in it’s entirety as to the role we play in world politics.
“Will we ever go to war as a country again?”
“I hope not but yes I believe so. History has a way of repeating itself and as long as there is sin in the world there will be no peace.”
Deep in thought he stares hard at the floor…….
“When there is a war, who goes? Do grandpa’s fight?”
“Right now, people enlist in the Military. But in the past, if the war was big enough people were asked to join the military at a certain age. But that hasn’t happened in awhile. If the situation were such that required Grandpa to fight to stand up for himself or his family he would.” I pause……”Ethan, what have you been taught as to why we as Canadians observe November 11th? What have you learned in school?”
“I dunno – a bunch of people died in some war.” He shrugged his shoulders. My heart sinks with embarrassment by our school system, the self absorption of our western culture and myself being lost in this same process.
The commercial is now over and Hoodwinked begins to play. Just like that, the conversation leads to 10 year old laughter and in an instant lightened voice he exclaims “this is my favourite part.” The conversation was obviously ended and the moment lost to animated entertainment. My mind wanders and it’s my turn to stare at the floor. Sadness seeps and realization sets in. Time and ignorance has buffered us from reality and denial has invaded. How much I take for granted for the little freedoms in things that were bought with blood from another. Time for change.