Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This time a year ago, my family was busy celebrating the marriage of one of my brothers, a fantastic party including a game of two-up played with 'bride money' (pretend money made using a portrait of my new sister-in-law).
It was a wonderful event somewhat overshadowed by the memory of having to breastfeed 17 000 times throughout the day, getting my cans out of the only fancy dress I managed to find that didn't require a complete strip in order to feed my human.

But that's a blog for another day...taking your baby to a wedding is lame. Next time, I will be sure my baby takes the bottle. Even sitting on the couch milking myself like a cow to prepare for the event, would be preferable to negotiating a 5 month old at a wedding.

This year things are a little different. This year we're celebrating the fact that another brother is half way through a tour in Afghanistan and grateful he and his mates are safe and well.

I never really imagined myself to have much to do with the military. It's not really my style. Before my brother became involved, the closest I'd ever come to it all, was the festival scene when I did a production of The Sound of Music. You know the scene, the one where the Von Trapp family is singing Edelweiss surrounded by Hitler's Goons. I was a nun in that production, so we weren't in that scene, but I seem to recall we took it as a fantastic occasion to commit whatever antics were required on the side of stage to make all the male chorus men dressed in Hitler pants and holding wooden guns break on stage.
So mature.

I'm not much of a rally person either. Crowds drive me a bit mental. Although I did do the 'sorry march' across the bridge. I prefer to sign a petition. Or write a letter. Does anybody write letters these days?

Am I against war? Sure. Who isn't?
But I also very much like the quality of life afforded Australian citizens and it's something I think worth preserving.
Do we have to fight for it? I don't know to be honest.
New Zealand seems to be maintaing their high standards of living without engaging in battle.

But I tell you what is worth preserving. My brother. And all the brothers like him, wherever they are in the world.
Yes, they agreed to go. No, they weren't conscripted, the choice was entirely theirs. But what we don't necessarily know is their reasons for making those choices.
While we sit on our couches enjoying a public holiday, our impotent inertia is perhaps a tad insulting. Particularly to the innocents caught in this brutal crossfire.

I wish things were simple. Hitler was bad. So was Stalin. And Mussolini. Not many people would dispute that.
But this conflict is not simple. In either warfare or ideology.

It's so sad to me that we haven't really learned from the fallen men and women of yesteryear, at least not enough to stop repeating the same behaviour. Just like they didn't learn from the people who fought before them.

We're not that smart, are we? Well, we're all programmed to fight to survive, so at its basest, we're just following our natural instincts, I suppose.

But right up there with survival though, my other natural instinct is to love. I suspect that's why we want to survive in the first place. To be with the people we love.

I love my little brother very much, and I love my daughter with a fierceness known only by other parents.

I would fight for her. For her rights, her freedom, her very life.
And I know I would do it with a ferocity seen only in a lioness.
Every animal instinct would emerge to protect that human that I made with my very own flesh.

See, that's why it's so complex, we just don't know what's driving other people. What their love is.

Q and I will make ANZAC biscuits this afternoon, and box them up to send to my brother overseas.
It's a small and completely ineffectual gesture.
But those biscuits will be made with thought and love. Conscious of the lives being lost in conflicts all over the world and with a gratitude that at our basest, I pray our natural instinct is still, and always will be, to love.

Stay safe little brother, you're in my heart.


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