Now My Kid Knows What War Is

While sitting at dinner, my 5 year-old informed me that, “Dad, there is a war today.”

I cringed on the inside. She now lives in a world where war is real and not just a scary scene from Mulan, and a generation of kids has been failed by those that came before them.

Armed conflicts, and current international affairs in general, are not our typical dinner time conversation, so I asked her where she heard that. Apparently a kid in her kindergarten class had heard about it at home. I don’t know this kid or their family, but based on my limited impression of them they definitely seem like people who listen to NPR on the ride to school. I’m more of a listen to Springsteen kind of a guy. But it was brought up, and discussed in class. My daughter told me that war was when a bunch of bullies were starting a fight. You won’t finder a better definition. Except for maybe “all war is hell.”

My initial reaction was that I hate that my kid now aware of this, even if only in the most general sense. The more I thought about it, what really bothers me is that in the year 2022, people still see waging war as a thing to do. For all the advancements we’ve made in other areas, when it comes to conflict we have made essentially no progress in the history of man. Actually, I take that back. We can kill people at a much larger scale now.

I felt bad because my daughter is aware of war, but that is nothing compared to the children living in it. My kid heard a news story about a war? Boo-hoo. Somewhere thousands of kids just had their fathers murdered because they happen to live on a piece of land that a sociopath wants to take in the name of a power grab. Like I said, we’ve failed another generation.

These children of war will undoubtedly continue to live in a world of violence. One war always creates another. The cycle will continue until people are in place to make it stop. Sadly, it is all too common that the kinds of people who rise to positions of power are also the kinds of people who are sociopaths, narcissists, and value power over actual values. (Here is a great listen on power, the kinds of people who seek it, and what happens when they get it.) Today’s power seeker will kill to get it – or more accurately have other people kill for him – until he dies, and he’ll replaced by the next lunatic. Rinse, repeat, and raise another group of kids left make the most of life in war-torn country or as a refugee seeking a new life somewhere. Buy hey, some guy got to lay claim to a patch of dirt that people will still get to fight over for the next decade or so. It’s good to be king, am I right?

Hopefully this cycle will change with future generations. Maybe our kids will be intelligent enough to not see violence as a means to an end but as a desperate act of the mentally unstable. Maybe they will become leaders driven by principles over profit, and value virtue over being really popular on Twitter. Maybe they will stand up to bullies and lunatics at a young age rather than enable them until its too late. Maybe they will value knowledge over opinion. Maybe. But in order for that to happen they need to see that kind of behavior in action. Who is going to be that model? If it’s going to be us, we need to do better.

Hopefully at some point a generation of kids will only know war from history class. Kids will learn about war with the same grossed out disbelief that we learned about chamber pots. Somebody, but we clearly aren’t there yet. I asked my daughter if the war was a good thing or a bad thing. She gave me a silent thumbs down. If only more world “leaders” had the simple wisdom of a 5 year-old.

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