I want to dedicate my IPEACE DAY to two people very dear to me: my parents
Not only because they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next januari , and share their love for half a century, wich is exceptional enough, but what makes it extra special is the happiness they enjoy now and the way they 'love their neighbours' like they learned from their parents, even after the horrors they encountered as children in the second World War.
Being from 1930 and 1935, my parents were what you would call 'WARCHILD's
these days, 5 and 10 year old respectively, when the nazis occupied our country ,the Netherlands ,in 1940, and they lived in an area about 10 miles from Amsterdam
They survived 5 years of fear and terror,and at times hunger and cold, although 'relatively' little large scale fighting, but they've seen and experienced enough monstruosities to give them nightmares even after many years, and survived the last cold winter of 1944 on practically no food in a city that had not even a tree left to burn in the stove, so everybody was skinny, cold and scared and willing to walk for days or do anything you could think of for a potato.They lived in a hell, even though others have seen even worse corners of hell on earth , it still was hell enough to be a burden on them for life
My parents are living proof what circumstances like that could do to children,
and what kind of scars can remain and soar even after half a century.
I have been painfully aware, with living examples very near to me, of the fact that every child we see on the news with eyes that can't even cry anymore,must be at least as scared and scarred as my parents once were
You name it, it may be Bagdad,Bosnia ,Kosovo , Congo,or Ramallah, wherever we see big scary guys threathening with and sometimes firing their guns and missiles and rockets and funerals with angry men screaming their bloody revenge rethorics, children who have nothing to do with the reasons for a conflict are damaged for life .
Resulting symptoms might range from the in our eyes unnecessary 'guilt of the survivor', to recurring nightmares or panic attacs sparked off by any trigger, like sounds of fireworks, loud footsteps or banging on doors, someone screaming too loud and fanatic, or just even zapping across the wrong tv channel.
And the list is much and much longer in endless variations.
And all of this is caused by horrors of war more than half a century ago, and they were not even on the front or in a concentration camp or any of the worser corners of that living hell that war can be, so we're talking of the lighter symptoms of the 'luckier' victims here..............
Just imagine what damage worse circumstances can do to a child
My parents for instance have habits like always buying food in large quantities whenever there's a bargain, and keep a special closet full of emergency supplies, and some people of their generation still keep travelling emergency kits and suitcases ready just in case.
I can think of only one 'happy'funny side effect: The tendency to SHARE as much of their stored foods as they can, before it gets out of date, because they CAN NOT THROW FOOD AWAY, and more important: someone might be needing it!!!!
And the storage can always be refilled, and it must from time to time be eaten before the food goes old . That's what I love about this particulair 'eccentricity' of them
When I was young and didn't like some vegetables I used to complain about this unability to throw away food, now I see it as a valuable lesson too: Share , and don't waste anything
So we rarely see my parents visiting somebody without bringing one or two bags of goodies from my mothers storage closet. They turned an old hangup from the war into a loving gift for the rest of their lives.
Now that is one thing I'm grateful to have learned from them.
Another one, wich I admire most is: Never judge anybody by anything but their actions. Not by their nationality, their language or even their uniform. Even among your enemies might be decent people like you, trapped into the situation, and among your own people might be people who turn out not to be not so decent too, given the circumstances.
My parents, who can hardly HEAR the German language without a fysical instinctive fear reaction still assured me that they didn't hate them,and always hoped not ALL of them were merciless nazis, and were willing to trust ordinary innocent Germans of good intention after the war.
And they never thought of 'our' side as better than 'them' perse, they KNOW what some of our own countrymen are capable of,from the history books as well as personal experience, and they know what fear and violence and hunger do to anybody. Surviving instincts may bring animal instincts about in some, and angelic instincts in others, and its not even rare to have BOTH in tense situations, like in stealing food for someone depending on you for instance, to name a paradoxal example
So we better not think of all others as competitors, and instead SHARE, if you can trust each other and have a common interest and some cooperation that might be a better way to survive AND guarantee you allies instead of an enemy
In larger perspective that's what our part of Europe did since 1945 and it proved the key to stability: Mutual trust and mutual benefits shared honestly among a still expanding group of peaceful co-operating neighbouring countries, who have had too many wars among them for at least the last thousand years and particulary cruel mass slaughter in the recent century
That's why I'm so proud of my parents and want to dedicate my IPEACE DAY to them:
After all they've experienced as warchildren, they kept believing in LOVE and were willing AND courageous enough to trust the good intentions of the common civilians and even the unvoluntary soldiers of 'former enemies '
And its only fanatics and warmongers who still may give them nightmares
These days we even see fanatics among our own countrymen with the rising of 'xenophobiapoliticians' who especially after '9/11' now say a lot of the same
crazy things about muslems as the xenophobians in my parents youth said about jews back then. Some people never learn , and I think ALL warchildren have sleepless nights about THAT
Because if we don't trust each other and build walls around us,we cannot see the good people on the other side and only see the ammo that a few fanatics shoot over that wall, and don't have a way to know if the majority agrees with that or not
Because if we cannot see them, we're blind so to say , and when threatened, we might be vulnerable to HATE and make the even bigger mistake to hate ALL of THEM 'on the other side'
Blind hate is the greatest enemy to ALL innocent people on ALL sides in all countries
So the best way to keep peace is to keep co-operating with the peaceful
to prevent the unpeaceful from poisoning our hearts with fear
That's why I want to dedicate my IPEACE DAY to my parents, the warchildren:
After all they've seen and experienced back then, they kept believing in LOVE, and the common good intentions of most ordinary people.
War instincts and personal trauma's may never leave you, but love gives you more strength to carry that burden.
And with love you may be able to help others carry THEIR burdens, or they might help you carry YOURS, or a another persons
There's always somebody who might need a little.....remember?
There it is again, that's why I admire them. My parents love each other for half a century and have spread that love around like the food from their storage
And I hope they can do it for as long as they want, and may inspire many to do the same
I will gladly pass on the most valuable 'lessons' I've learned from them, my dear old warchildren with who I've had many conflicts too, of course, traumatized people are not 'easy', understandably,but who never
treated me or anybody with an intention to HURT, although I'm at times not very 'easy' myself too, I know and admit
I will end this tribute with passing on the three most important lessons I learned from my parents about war and peace
Lesson 1 is that you never should lose HOPE,without it its harder to hold on and survive
and their 50th wedding anniversary now is the living proof and celebration that it worked for them, and that not all happiness has to be lost even when your carrying a heavy burden of with you
Lesson 2 is that no-one should be considered an enemy just because of generalizations.
Actions and intentions matter and distinguish the good from the
bad guys, and where you're born or what religion or genes your parents have should not make a difference just as Dutch or German children of today can't be to blame for crimes of ancestors as well as the average drafted soldiers in some dictatorial states today can't be held responsible for the wars their governements started. Again, it's their actions and intentions that separate the good from the bad.
Sometimes you can refuse an 'inhumane'order, sometimes you can't or get shot
Don't assume we're better or more courageous than that if you've never been under a real threat
Lesson 3 is that people in fear NEVER really say what they think, because its unsafe, in Nazi Germany , as in Stalins Soviet Union, Pol Pot's Cambodja, Saddam's Irak, or present day China to name a few 'unsafe'regimes, we just will not hear many voices that openly don't agree with the governement, so we must ASSUME that most of the citizens are still friendly earthlings just like us who mean NO HARM AT ALL, in spite of aggressive actions or rethorics of their undemocratic governements. And even in democratic countries when 51% vote for a warmonger, there are 49% who are NOT guilty ,and possibly
friendly allies of the future.There's no reason to hate all of them
Remember, George W. Bush as well as Hitler grabbed power with a smaller percentage of the popular vote.
Who should we see as the real danger, in times of trouble? The People or the 'powers that be'?
After all , even most Germans turned out to be pretty decent people in time, my father will probably agree. We used to follow a remark like that with a sarcastic "as long as they're younger than ..." , now I guess we will joke " as long as they're not in the National Football Team"
We 've come a long way here in Europe.The next generation may not need our healthy distrust of nationalistic 'pride' because dangerous nationalism in a unified Europe may have changed into a healthier 'regional' pride, for instance in sports or in local food specialities or in respected and respectING civilized traditions. I know such a Europe, or better, such a safer planet preferably, will be my parents ultimate dream wish for their grandchildren. And with the climate and pollution and energy troubles, there's no time to waste and all the co-operation needed worldwide
So I think the best way to prevent wars and the resulting trauma's and fears wich might lead to future violence is always to try and reach out to the most friendly and innocent, starting with the children whose innocence is absolute,
but whose 'scars' may carry the seeds of future wars as well as future peace, depending on what we sow
So lets sow FRIENDLY seeds, instead of quarreling over dogmas or blaming everybody and their children into the Nth generation for the agression of the few
I want to honour my parents for that understanding, and end this tribute with my own estimation that the chances that a politician who wants a war is an opportunist are much greater
than the chance that mothers on whatever 'other side'want to send their sons to the horrors of war .
They may not be YOUR enemy, remember, and certainly not ALL of them, that's one important aspect of 'know your enemy' that people have overlooked so many times
It would have prevented a lot of revenge and retaliation on ever new innocent victims of political and religious or other ideological or plain opportunistic vendetta's over OUR heads throughout history.
THEY as a whole are not the enemy, its the ones in charge and the ones
'without a heart' who are the real danger, and the rest is just like 'us',
and we may have a few among us without a heart too, so we might better co-operate with all the love we can find in our hearts and other people 's hearts to make up for that dangerous few who threathen the peace of the many
I just put it in my own words
To me it's just ordinary human common sense, but I think it's VERY courageaous from the mouths of warchildren like my parents generation, who still suffer their occasional panic attacs even after half a century.
Especially when they hear the too loud voices of agressive politicians and their fanatical followers all the time if they turn on their tv, just as they heard scary voices shouting in strange languages on their radio's when they were young.
And still they haven't lost the ability to love and trust the average person from elsewhere. Better meet and mingle and no borders and no countries. No fanatism please, that's the best guarantee for peace,
that's the kind of attitude they raised me with
That's why my old loving warchildren are my PEACE HEROES
Bless them for that forever