It is a glorious sunny October day with the colours of fall showing off their natural beauty.
It’s peaceful in the neighbourhood where my three month old grandson lives. He coos and gurgles at me with his edentulous smile as I take him for a walk in the local park.
I chat with young mothers also out on a stroll with their infants as well as the occasional grandmother.
A woman who survived and escaped the civil war in what was once Yugoslavia stops to talk with me.
Four elderly Italian men play bocce nearby.
It is a good day to be alive.
It is a good day to be born a Canadian.
It was serendipitous that my English mother decided to emigrate to Canada after the second world war.
Speaking of which, what does my young grandson know of war? Absolutely nothing. He is completely innocent and oblivious to the madness of the world.
How do I explain to him one day that humans just can’t get along? How do I describe to him the atrocities of war and conflict and utter despair which have continued for millennia?
How do I shelter him from the insanity that is pervasive on our planet?
I fear for his future although I am sure every grandparent has said that for generations. In just my lifetime, I have been a vicarious witness to the aftermath of the last war followed by the Korean war, the Cold war, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the genocide in Rwanda, the Irish troubles, the current war in Ukraine and the endless conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians, just to name a few.
They all share a similar outcome resulting in thousands of senseless deaths and destruction of property and infrastructure. The decimation of a sectarian group or innocent civilians. Babies, children, mothers and fathers.
Senseless sorrow and pain and fear which is so pervasive, it is sometimes the only way of life for many. Caught in a tangle of chaos as each warring faction strives for power and dominance in their righteous determination to control and win.
And who suffers?
Just look at the current atrocities inflicted by Hamas on the innocent people of Israel which has turned this Jewish state into another killing field. The stateless Palastinian people of the Gaza strip have fared no better as Hamas doesn’t care about them.
This isn’t war according to the laws of the Geneva Convention. This is outright barbarism and depravity.
In a way I am reminded of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland which lasted for over 30 years. It included ongoing sectarian violence between the Catholics and the Protestants resulting in thousands of civilian casualties.
Finally the people of Northern Ireland agreed that violence wasn’t working and so they have brokered a peace agreement which seems to work for them.
Martin Luther King Jr. said “wars are poor chisels for carving peaceful tomorrows.” And Mahatma Gandhi said “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
It’s ironic that these preachers of peace died by a violent hand.
How do I protect my grandson from the harsh world which awaits him?
I asked my girlfriend, who is also a grandmother, the same question. We both sighed and drew a blank as we nursed our coffees.
There is no simple answer but I can try to set an example the best way I know how. I can show him examples of human kindness.
And as he sleeps peacefully, I can play him John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance.
That’s a start.