When I was a child growing up during the Cold War, November 11 alternately confused and scared me. The ceremonies at school seemed distant and I had no direct contact with any family members who had experienced war. However, the fear of “the enemy” was palpable, and not just on November 11. Practice air raid sirens would go off from time to time, and we practiced what to do if we were attacked – although I really had no idea who might be doing that. Unfortunately, neither my parents nor my teachers could or would deal with my questions and my concerns, so I learned to keep them to myself. Later, when I could read fluently, a friendly librarian helped me find some books that would at least explain things, if not settle my mind.
Years later, at a time when the Viet Nam war was winding down, I spoke with my own children about war. I had few tools to help me, but I wanted to be sure they wouldn’t have the confusion or fear that I’d experienced as a child. In addition to our chats, they accompanied me on peace marches, and (without my prompting) wrote and performed a play to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
One tool I could have used was an article that we published in Natural Life Magazine in 2003 called Talking to Children About War by Naomi Drew, the author of Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World (Citadel Press, 2002).
Here, also, is a much more recent article by author Laura Grace Weldon entitled Making Peace in Your Life and in the World. It puts violence in a personal context and provides food for thought about our individual responsibilities to work toward peace within our families and our communities.