Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On Peace and Gratitude

So, the other day I'm on the bus, going to work. It was about a week and a half ago, so it was a sunny (note, it's raining now, but I'm over the fact that Melbourne seems to be exporting its wierd weather tendencies) and golden morning. But I was feeling a bit jangled, I was on public transport - you know the kind of thing. Woe is me, the hobby horse is forgot, etc etc.

So, I was listening to Hardcore History by Dan Carlin (great show, btw), and he was talking about The First World War, and how different it was from anything that came before, and how shocking it was to people's worldviews and that kind of thing. So he was describing it, and everything I've ever heard about the First World War, and some about the second, just all seemed to gel into my brain. Dan was talking about the experience of the common soldier, or something along those lines, and I realised, suddenly, that peace was, in fact, a wonderful thing.

Photo taken by me at Womadelaide

For someone who's grown up in a peaceful, accepting world, it's hard to imagine the way things are when war comes into your life. The woman I sit with at reception here at work is Bosnian, and I forget all the time that she didn't leave her country because she thought that Australia sounded nice. She left, with a young family and half a law degree, because she was afraid that horrible things would happen to her and her loved ones. I personally think it's wrong that we can be 'at war', and the most it affects us is that occasionally we hear a news bulletin, or there's a media scrum because someone was mucking around with his rifle in his barracks and shot himself. But I don't certainly don't want to live in the alternative - in a world or a circumstance where everything is filtered through the fact of War.

But I didn't think about that then. What I thought about was how golden the light was, and how peaceful and quiet the morning was, despite being on public transport. And how the day would continue to be peaceful, no matter how busy or stressful work was. How, at no stage during the day, was I likely to be blown up or otherwise injured. But it wasn't about the physicality of it. It was about the mental and emotional peace of my world. And how, so often, I just don't see it because I'm too busy inflating my own importance by making trivial events seem huge.

I suppose you could call it an epiphany, I suppose that's what it was. Suddenly I could feel the coty around me, people quietly on their way to work, living their lives. It was peaceful. Calm. Serene, even.

I realised, for the first time, what is really meant when people say that the soldiers fought for this. Fought for the world in which I live, more than the country that that world exists in. A world in which, after the war, they couldn't live, because of the things they had seen and done.

It's a world worth fighting for, and I can't tell you how grateful I am that someone did, and that that someone didn't have to be me.

Photo taken by me at my parent's place in the Adelaide Hills

Next post: back to your regularly scheduled levity!

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