Christmas Eve. It’s like a pause – isn’t it? – between the preparations that went before and the festivities that are to follow.
The presents are bought and wrapped, the turkey is in the fridge, the drink is in the cupboard. The carpets are clean. We have everything we need. Everyone is waiting. It’s like the whole world is holding its breath.
Me, I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’m spending Christmas with my new grandchild, meeting the in-laws. I’m sure we’ll get on. The baby will be the centre of attention and the subject of most of the conversations. Nevertheless there’s a tickle of apprehension in my stomach.
One of the things about having a relationship with a very young child is that the future takes on an added dimension. The child represents all that is positive and hopeful about the world: it’s newness, it’s potential to learn.
At the same time, the future is a scary place. Terrible things are happening.
We are on the verge of war. And not a war, like all the wars so far, against an already defeated enemy, with a ragtag conscript army, such as we fought in Iraq.
No: this is a real war, against a nuclear armed enemy, with a well-trained and loyal army. The sides are already lining up. It will be the East versus the West: Iran, Russia and China versus the United States and Europe.
So far it is being played out by proxy, in the Ukraine and Syria. It’s like a game of Chicken – who will blink first? – but with the potential to break into direct conflict at any time. There are already children being hurt.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot look into the face of a traumatised child and not see my own grandchild. All the violence we are inflicting upon the world, it is violence against our own future.
There are torturers amongst us. They justify the torture, saying that it will make the world safer. But it doesn’t. It has the opposite effect. It brings out the torturers on the other side. It brings out the urge for revenge.
Violence begets violence. War begets war. For the sake of our children, we have to find a way to stop it.