Richard Carnes: Vail Valley boy disturbed at Gaza’s deadly nonsense
“Who killed that kid?”
Not exactly a normal question for a 9-year-old to ask, but those were the first words out of his mouth as he walked into the family room upon seeing the child’s limp body being carried in front of the ever-present video news cameras in all its HD detailed glory.
“The other side,” I answered, without taking my eyes off the screen.
“The other side of what?”
This was one of those parenting moments, the kind where we’re supposed to think before speaking. I had reached this particular point with his older brothers in the past, and trusted my instincts.
“A religious fence,” I answered.
“Both sides believe their god, their magical being of choice, says it’s OK and therefore gives them the right to kill somebody if that somebody is trying to kill them or their principles, no matter how illogical.”
“Honey,” came a disgruntled mumble from the kitchen.
I was just being honest.
Briefly wondering about the age his brothers were when I first used this approach, I tossed those thoughts aside, choosing to complete the cycle either way.
“But he’s just a kid, like me!” he suddenly shouted, but in a whisper, especially those last two words, and I could see the tears of reality collecting in the bottoms of his eyes.
I stood, walked over to my son, and held him in a silent grip for a minute or so, neither of us saying a word.
Life sucks when you’re only a few weeks shy of turning double-digits, and you first begin to truly understand the cruelness of a world outside of your life’s bubble. It happens to all of us eventually, some later than others, but all in due time.
We each have a Happy Valley to emerge from at some point, and I am attempting to teach my own flesh and blood how to view the world from a rational point of view, not how to choose which side to follow.
This wasn’t a football game we were discussing.
“Who was that kid trying to kill?” he sniffed while tilting his head up and away from being smothered by my sweater.
He was serious. Seriously naive, but exactly where he should be, given his age.
“No one,” I said, realizing his siblings were probably a tad older before we had this level of conversation. “That kid wasn’t trying to kill anyone, but it looks to me like he sadly got in the way of some idiot adult who was.”
“But, but why?”
I didn’t have an answer, and knew I never had the answer for his brothers either.
All I could ever do, and all I ever will be able to do, is explain, to the best of my ability,
the rational and logical reasons behind man’s horrific capacity to slaughter one another all for the superficial satisfaction of a supernatural world that no human being — ever — has proven, in the slightest fraction of the tiniest degree, to even exist.
“Basically, son, it’s because their parents told them it was OK, and their parents had told them it was OK, and so on, and so on back for a few thousand years.”
“Well.” It was his turn to hesitate. “Those people are just stupid!” he said, quickly snapping out of his self-induced daze. “Let’s go work on the ski jump!” And out the door he flew.
Wise beyond his years.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.