I was going to write a completely different story today. That was my intention. But then I woke up to this. So now I’m writing a different post altogether.
There are many things which trouble pregnant women, and new mums (and dads for that matter). Will I ever be able to get my baby to latch on properly and feed? Is this amount of sick normal? Why are they crying when I’ve done everything I can? What if they… Catch this bug? Have difficulty breathing? Are too cold? Too hot? Are they still breathing? Are they ok? Is what we are experiencing normal?
Like I said, there are many things which trouble new parents. Many of the above questions are things that have troubled me over the last 2 months. But only one thing terrorises me. How do I explain the kind of world we live in to my daughter?
I’m no stranger to ‘the war on terror’, or just war generally. By the time I was 3, my dad had completed his first tour of duty as a British Army chaplain in the first Gulf War. By the time I was 16, he’d been back to Iraq, done a stint in Croatia, and we’d all lived, as a family, in Northern Ireland 1996-1998. I don’t remember being afraid at any time, but I also don’t remember my parents explaining to me about the world we were being brought up in.
War is just one half of it, though. How do I explain the world’s great inequalities? How do I explain that we live in a world where too many people don’t have access to clean water, a high-quality and free education, or even just somewhere safe to sleep? How do I explain that birth is a lottery, and that lottery means some people live in a very real, daily fear? That despite the fact that it is a lottery, we still insist on not allowing those who are in danger to travel to where it is safe? What a world we live in!
Once again, there were tragedies in the world when I was growing up. Far too many dead in the Sierra Leone genocide; the Troubles in Northern Ireland; poverty; hunger; drought; civil wars. Once again, I don’t remember my parents offerin any kind of explanation. What I do remember, though, is never feeling afraid. I remember feeling great indignation and righteous anger from a young age about societal inequalities. I remember daily bible study with my mum or dad’s guidance. I remember seeing a model of daily prayer and reliance on God. I remember that, whilst being unable to understand why pain and suffering exists (I mean, I still don’t know!!), God loves me.
So, how do I explain the kind of world we live in to my daughter? Maybe I don’t. Maybe I just model a life of prayer and reliance on God, our loving father. Maybe I just show her that there is an alternative to fear and greed. Maybe I just draw close to Him.