STILLNESS

There’s this scene in Saving Private Ryan where the protagonist, played by the inimitable Tom Hanks, becomes eerily still in the middle of this great and bloody World War 2 battle. Around him, utter chaos with bullets flying, blood spraying, men screaming and many dying. But he becomes quiet and motionless, not by an overcoming of tranquility but by shock. He looks around him and sees death and fear. The commonalities of war…

Have you ever had moments like that? Of course I mean like that, many of us are lucky enough to not have the foggiest idea what it must be like in war. Thank God for that.

But many people do know what it’s like. And this is what I want to write about…

It’s a Sunday evening here. Well, it’s just turned midnight. In a few hours I’ll be up again and the grind will repeat itself and it will take my boss record time to piss me off and my students will make me regret every decision I’ve ever made and I’ll complain to my friends about the complete noodle I went on a date with last week…

In short: in a few hours my privilege continues.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had a few moments of Private Ryan-stillness. Moments in which I was surrounded by (and part of, I must add) complaining and bitching and a lot of internet trolls and gossiping and downright meanness, and became utterly still, marvelling at the ridiculousness of it all…

There are countries in which war rages. Countries in which the environmental catastrophes have become so rife that food and water is no longer a daily reality. And there the world was: trolling and criticising and cancelling and opinionating…

Wait wait, I’m not trying to induce guilt. I promise. Please read on.

I’ve tried to imagine what it must feel like to live in a country of war. The horrors are enough to interrupt my daydreams and force me to think of other things. More pleasant things. I have that luxury.

I sit here, safely behind my computer, and often wallow in self-pity and anger and other emotions that I allow to thrive. But too seldom I feel grateful for peace and safety. My country is a very unsafe one, but we are not at war. I do not have to huddle in my bath tub at night, hoping the bombs will miss my home.

So basically, what I’m saying is: here’s to peace.

Here’s to the peacekeepers. May you never become tired.

And if you are a soul surrounded by war – in whatever form it exists – here’s to you. It is so easy to say from afar: you are not alone. I wanted to type that. But it feels cheap, because I cannot help you. But if I could, I would send my heart’s desires over to where you are, and lift you out of your war. I’d bring you here, to my old, falling-apart home and give you tea. No. I’d give you chococino.

Here’s to you.

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