Olly and I turned up a little late for school this morning. Not too late, but late enough to go in via the secretary, Mrs Stevens. I gave 'watching the birds' as a reason for our late arrival. "What birds did you see, Oliver?" she asked. "A Goldcrest, a Robin and a Blackbird," he replied. "What a lovely way to start the day," she smiled.
I had to rouse Olly from his slumbers this morning. He didn't want to get out of bed, even though he had had a very chilled out weekend. The lousy weather had forced us to stay indoors. Between us, we pottered, played, baked, read and diy'ed. The light levels were low, and the lamps stayed on all day. I lit candles, and enjoyed the peace and harmony of a household quietly going about its' business.
It was all in stark contrast to the events unfolding elsewhere. We watched rolling news, until I could take it no more. It was not so long ago that Samuel drew at the table, pre-occupied and unconcerned, while I sat glued to the television watching the horrors of 9/11 unfold. And now years later, I sat feeling the same shock and horror as Olly engaged in very much the same thing. I thought of those poor people caught up in these attacks. Their families and friends. Their children. And I felt an aching sadness for this visceral pain that had reached out and was drawing them in.
I also thought of those that had committed these attacks. The picture of the young man wanted in connection with it all, made me feel so sad. He is so young. It would appear that they were all so young. They are victims too. They have been manipulated and brainwashed. They have been disenfranchised and ignored. They have been swept up by promises and false doctrines. They have had their hearts and minds filled with hatred. And I feel a sense of responsibility for that. I am one of a global community that has fanned the flames of extremism. I cast a gaze through the history of the world that I live in, and feel a sense of shame that past global actions have also left their mark. An indelible mark, ensuring that young men can be so easily indoctrinated into a life of hatred and self destruction.
But oh my God did I feel lucky. Lucky to be sat here listening to the wind and rain buffet our white house on the hill. Lucky to have the heating on and the lamps lit. Lucky to be able to wander through the house, pottering and pausing. Feeling safe and secure and happy. Lucky that I am still able to see life from both sides. To try and gain an understanding of the whole picture, so that when my children need to talk about what is happening in their world, I can hopefully help them to see through the hatred, and look beyond. It is all too easy to react in kind. Many of yesterday's papers were full of that. It is all too easy to proclaim an eye for an eye. It is all to easy to condemn and point the finger of blame at your neighbour.
Of course I don't condone violence. I find the slaughter of countless innocents abhorrent. But two wrongs will never make a right. My hope for my children is that they can shine a light through all of this, and see beyond all that knee jerk crap. After all, we will all be passing the baton to them someday. And I am naïve enough to think that compassion, understanding and the desire to change things for the greater good will prevail. I am unashamed in educating my children to look at something from both sides. To walk in someone else's shoes, and see how it fits. It's not about sitting on the fence. It's about trying to gain an understanding and perspective of the world outside of your own frame of reference.
I'm trying to help my children to see the beauty in the small. In the Goldcrest, the Robin and the Blackbird. To understand that there is more to life than computer games and the right kind of hairstyle. But I don't live in a bubble, and I do want them to be aware of the bigger picture. I just don't want it tainted by prejudice, ignorance and the Daily Mail.
I could go on, but I'll leave you with this; Mrs Stevens must have told Olly's head teacher about the reason for his late arrival. She has asked him whether he would teach her and his fellow pupils the names of some of the birds that can be seen in the school grounds. Isn't that wonderful? Oh and he is to be a cow in the school nativity. Suggestions for a costume that doesn't make him look like Nursey from Blackadder are appreciated.
(my phone is broken, so no Instagram for me for a while. I'm bereft).