“Is this your first war?“ I asked my daughter, who will be 13 soon, if the invasion of Ukraine is the first war she remembers.
It was at about her age when I became conscious of actual wars being fought in the present, and not just in the history books. For me it was Gulf War 1. I think the first global news event I remember was the coming down of the Berlin Wall. Tiananmen Square? My adult learning about that event have taken over any youthful memories that may have remained.
Asking my daughter about other wars she replied “Afghanistan… ?” Yes, but on further questioning it seemed that war was in the past for her (granted it was started well before her birth). Surprisingly she wasn’t conscious of Syria, even though I was (shortly) involved in the Syrian refugee settlement movement, and we have discussed that (ongoing) war in our household a lot. My kids have long been exposed to politics at the dinner table. I am known to pull out a map at the last minute to explain nearly anything to rolling pre-teen eyes. (“Not the map Dad!”)
Canadians have a geographic privilege to not have to think of war from a young age. Even compared to the US we have political privilege — there it seems everyone knows someone who has been deployed.
Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Palestine, Korea, and Hong Kong are the wars, conflicts, insurgencies, and skirmishes that I personally am aware of as a normal citizen with an interest in international politics. That is only a fraction of the list of ongoing armed conflicts around the world that don’t often penetrate the Canadian news cycle. Mentally I appended the Russian invasion of Ukraine to that list, despite its share of airtime on the nightly news. I do understand how this particular war is an affront to the self-image of the West, wrapped in rhetoric of freedom and democracy, and therefore differentiating it from other conflicts on that List. I am not sure if that is justified though.
But I digress, and decry the loss of life in all conflicts. I hope the fighting comes to an end quickly. But I won’t ignore it or try to shield my kids from it. They need to clearly see the world and their privileged position in it.
Peace to all, and I hope you are taking care of yourselves.
Unzen – Where foreigners go to hell to cool off
A second travel report from the Shimabara peninsula.
Looking outside in the -18 weather and snow I remember where I was a year ago Video →
Math can be funner than I thought Link →
Against western “high collar” fashion, with a good sprinkling of gender theory. Great piece Link →
Remember Karl Popper’s “Paradox of Tolerance” Link →
Xuanzang: China’s Legendary Pilgrim and Translator by Benjamin Brose (29% Complete)
This edition of Shambala’s “Lives of the Masters” series has already shed light on Xuanzang for me. I am mostly familiar with him through popular tales like Journey to the West. I mean, I was pretty sure the real Xuanzang wasn’t accompanied by a weapon-wielding monkey and pig, but so far I have been straightened out on a number of details about one of China’s most famous religious figures.