“The soldiers graves are the greatest preachers of peace.”
I am 52 years old and I miss my parents. And grandparents. And many parental figures. I want to talk to them about what’s going on in the world.
I think it’s that I want to feel assurance; occasionally defeat creeps in and my hopeful view of life gets a little wobbly.
I am drawing on their stories of wartime and the depression, time in the service. I want their perspective.
I need to hear, as Julian of Norwich said, that
“All Will Be Well.”
I wish I could ask them a few questions. I am not sure it is really their answers I am after, maybe what I want is the shift of responsibility from being the one who is supposed to have the answers.
Instead I am trying to represent to my kids what Russia once was (the enemy,) what Communism and the Iron curtain were, and why we cried at the Miracle on Ice. Once upon a time…
I’m fumbling with my explanations. I hear myself and think of my mother describing blackout sirens during WW2. In other words- deaf ears.
I am trying to make sense of it all. Which maybe is my biggest mistake.
Our young people are getting the education on the toughness of life that we have often said they needed. Ground wars, supply issues, pestilence, collapsing markets. How silly I was to think those things were for the history books.
I have come to realize that experiential learning is the most effective learning. If history repeats itself it seems to be doing that right now.
I am turning to the timeless wisdom of those who have endured.
If you’re fortunate enough to still have elders in your life- now is a time to engage them. Ask them questions, and advice. Their knowledge base is relevant, their survival strategies might be essential. It’s about time we revere the older generation as the great generation they are, rather than marginalizing them because they are beyond their “productive years.”
I am looking back at some of the classic writing and creativity that was born from strife.
I am listening to my favorite musical, Les Misérables. Victor Hugo wrote it during a time when France was battered by divisive politics and a deadly pandemic. It’s got it all- every shade of moral gray that lurks between the black and white.
“I don’t know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone… the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind’s wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps,”
said Hugo, in 1845, when the book was first published.
Today’s offering is a few excerpts from Les Mis.
(Rent it! The most recent movie version with Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman is fantastic.)
As Hugo said, ‘social problems go beyond frontiers.’
“The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
EXCERPTS FROM LES MISÉRABLES: