Discussing Terrorism with a 12-Year-Old


Each of my kids are chatter-boxes, but they’re each completely different in how they chatter and what they chatter about. I like hearing what they have to say about the world around them, and how they perceive it, so I often engage with them about world events. Sometimes I get literally nothing out of them, and other times I get more than I bargained for when they tell me something that I wouldn’t agree with or didn’t see coming. Then there are times when it becomes abundantly clear that they’re listening and processing in those moments of silence.

Over this weekend I had trapped one of them in the car with me as I running her around town. As always, when there is no sibling competing for attention –or air time– the chattering starts up. This is always the best time to jump in and see what kind of thoughts are bouncing around their minds. This time I had Paris on my mind and I wanted to get her take on it.

Of course this event was not on her world news radar as this particular kid (12) is more into gaming than social media, so she had no idea what I was talking about. I simply said that terrorists attacked Paris, in multiple locations, killing more than 100 people. There was some silence after than, in what I thought was a lack of interest, but she started to ask a few questions about who the attackers were and why would they do that. I provided the limited answers that I could, and after a while she started to make more sense than most people in any government.

For the sake of simplicity, and because I am not one known for a perfect memory, I’ll paraphrase what my 12 year old had to say about war:

“I think it’s stupid for people to be so one-side about war. The people they’re killing aren’t the bad guys – they’re just people who have families too. And THOSE people think WE are the bad guys, too. It’s just a point of view – we are all just people. They think we are bad, we think they are bad, but none of that matters. It’s just killing and it’s stupid.”

I should point out that she added angry emphasis onto “stupid,” as she is known to do when things are stupid (in her point of view).

This didn’t really strike me at the time. I was proud of her for thinking like that and I told her that she is absolutely correct. I pointed out that so many people haven’t reached that level of thinking yet. But, since it was just so like her to say that, I didn’t come back to it until I drank a cup of my Facebook news feed this morning.

A friend of mine wrote, “If you feel so strongly about sending people over to other countries to kill people, just go yourself.” Yea, he is right, and after reading that I was reminded of my daughter’s point of view, and so I posted it there as a comment, just to add some strength to the sentiment, and as the day went on I realized that she had a point strong enough to warrant repeating (thus this posting).

To be honest, I’ve had the same train of thought before as I pondered American patriotism vs Canadian patriotism. I’m not a fan of the Canadian military just because I’m Canadian, which I’ve felt is the default American point of view. I’m not a fan of a war just because Canada has sent its military there, either.

I mean, what would you say war is, if a little kid asked you? How do you avoid telling the kid that war is when two or more countries can’t agree on something so strongly that they start a big fight where the purpose to destroy their land and kill as many people as needed to make them stop defending themselves? That’s what happens: mass killing and destruction, then total submission. After the submission, then what?

She’s right, it’s just killing and it’s stupid.

Praying for Humanity isn’t going to do a thing. What we need to do is think and act more like lives actually matter.

I’m Embarrassed to be a Part of Civilization Today

The mainstream media has exploded with news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. If the media reported his death and how it happened we could call that news. But that’s not what happened anywhere in the developed nations. Everyone is celebrating the joyous occasion of the slaying of a human being.

In all the news reporting I heard/watched today there was only one voice of reason, and it came from a 10 year old Canadian child – whose father died in the 9/11 attacks. The child asked his mother why there was no trial. Great question, but it was totally ignored. I was surprised it even made it on-air. In subtraction to this, there was no mention of what criminal charges were laid against Osama, or his accomplices. There was no mention that the FBI never even laid charges against Osama. There was no mention of all the mistakes and investigative inconclusiveness in the 9/11 reporting. Just a big parade of rhetoric.

The USA is the most proud nation I can think of. So proud that many Americans are offended when another country does not accept the USA’s interpretation of good politics. The USA has a fantastic Constitution, whereby the land is ruled by law and not men. Fair and just at it’s very core. Each state is sovereign in the union and they’re free to make laws that do not infringe upon the rights of others, as per the Constitution.

WAIT! That’s not at ALL what we know the USA to be like. They invade other countries after the dictators they push into power fail to follow the status quo, for obviously bull**** reasons that don’t matter in the long run because they never leave – regardless of mission success or fail. The US imposes its military might all over the world – all in the name of liberation, freedom, or defence of their borders – but they do not adhere to the rules by which they want the other countries to operate and they mass-murder hundreds of thousands of non-combatants in the process.

Why is this relevant? The rule of law puts the law in front of the emotions, power or influence of any man or group of men. – Man, in this context simply means human. – The rule of law levels the playing field so that no matter where a person originates; no matter a person’s finance; no matter that person’s influence; that person is granted the same rights and freedoms as any other man.  What is the point of laws if a specific group of men are exempt from them? And if there are exemptions – who has the power, right or authority to make such exemptions? How did they get that power? If one man can have his human rights taken away, then so can yours be taken away. If it is OK to murder Osama for crimes he is assumed to have committed, because he was hard to find, then it is ok to murder anyone else, including you.

Without the rule of law we have anarchy. This is where humans are supposed to be separate from the animals. Our ability to create complex social structures, instead of survival of the fittest, which is what the US is doing. The US the fittest and they’re imposing their will while we watch, while the middle-east is bombed into the stone-age. Who do you think the military machine will turn against when the middle-east is crushed?

Osama is dead – officially. That’s the news. Celebrating the death of a man, and the justification for his murder by soldiers, on another nation’s land, without permission/clearance/knowledge, is disgusting. I am ashamed to be part of a society that celebrates such barbaric ideals right in the face of law, democracy and human rights.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

In case I have not made my point clear: Had Osama been killed in a fire-fight as the soldiers attempted to arrest him, that’s an expected possibility of war. Had the media reported that, without celebration, then that’s news. However, the news reporters and the people interviewed, all celebrated that a man was intentionally killed, and only a 10 year old kid saw how that goes against everything we stand for and teach.

What Remembrance Day is Not About

National Archives of Canada C-38723
Canadians departing for active service in Europe during the Second World War, 1940. (National Archives of Canada C-38723)

I’ve thought quite a bit about this day, November 11th 2009. While I do not agree with war, nor the politics that lead us into wars, 11/11 is not about war or politics.

The fact is that well over 1,500,000 Canadians have served in the Armed Forces, and well over 100,000 of them have died in doing so. Remembrance Day is about us showing our appreciation to our fellow humans, who set out with a goal that they believed to be greater than themselves – not for their benefit, but for the benefit of their families, friends and nation under which they lived.

Today, your task is simple: At 11am, stand up… And say thank you to your fellow man, for standing up for what they believe in. I hope that one day we all can stand up for what we believe in too.