This post is probably not going to be very structured.
The thoughts have been swirling in my head for the past few days...
I don't think anyone has passed through the past 5 days
with shaking their heads, clenching their fists, tearing over or crying
at the pure tragedy of those lost people of flight MH17.
Yet, while we are consumed by grief and outrage,
hundreds more have died in the Gaza War this week while
more than 200 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have been spirited away
We are sympathetic and we are saddened.
But, of course, those souls on that plane are the ones that resonate with us.
In the same way that those lost in the Bali Bombings, on September 11th
or those missing on flight MH370 did.
We can't relate to living in a war zone or fleeing persecution in desperation.
Or dying because of famine or lack of basic medical intervention.
But, of course, people flying home from holidays,
flying to a conference, to a new job, to visit family or friends...
that's just so normal to us.
We just can't deal with the reality that any one of those people
could have been a family member, a friend or a workmate.
Or anyone of them could have been us.
We try to comprehend what they went through.
What their families and friends are going through.
We re-read and dwell on the stories that could be ours.
We shield our children from the news
as we wonder how whole families,
whole schools, whole communities don't have that same luxury.
We are haunted.
All of our known history has been punctuated with atrocities,
perpetuated by human beings against human beings.
Those responsible have been
desperate, extreme, indoctrinated, grieving,
angry, unstable, greedy.
They have committed acts because of religious or political beliefs,
because of ethnic or racial or sexual differences,
because they wanted more, they wanted something different,
because they thought that they were better,
because their minds were twisted.
Sadly it will continue to happen.
New lines seem to be drawn in the sand with each tragedy.
I wonder if suddenly, with that one missile,
strangers rifling through the personal belongings of those perished, still lying unattended nearby,
is suddenly going to be more tolerated the next time something like this happens.
That there is just a little more desensitization to such callous actions.
Human beings, with our apposable thumbs and forefingers,
our intelligence, our emotions,
and our perceived superiority to the animals on this earth,
can really fuck things up when we get it wrong,
whether it be by accident or by deliberate wrong doing.
Sometimes the term "humanity" just doesn't seem to make sense.
Whether or not you believe there is something waiting for us after our last breath,
most of us agree that this is the only breathing life that we are going to get
and most people have no idea how long it is going to last.
Friday's tragedy has emphasized that.
I know everyone right now
is hugging their loved ones
and saying "I love you" more than usual.
I also know that the platitudes of living each day like it could be your last
are inspiring but ultimately reality kicks in
and most of us need to keep moving through our necessary daily rituals
without being able to think so big.
So go out, stand in the sun and listen to the birds.
Make eye contact with people. Interact. Smile at people. Say "Hi".
Stand up for yourself, for others.
Be kind. Be generous. Be gracious.
Be a good human being.
Show that for the sheer majority,
we humans are worthwhile beings
and that this planet and all of its inhabitants are in good hands.
There may be nothing more than fate
to decide how long you will be here for
so, each day, keep being the best that a human can be.
We can obliterate that line in the sand each time
so that it wont be any more acceptable the next time such an atrocity happens.
Imagine if, when you left the hospital with your first newly-born child,
precious little parcel in one arm,
amongst the nappy and baby shampoo samples, 59 teddy bears and bub's umbilical cord clip in your bag
was a shirt.
A really nice, brand new shirt, in your favourite colour,
a blank canvas front and back.
Imagine if, each time between that time
and the moment when that child,
as an independent-yet-still-living-at-home-just-turned-eighteen year old,
grabbed the car keys at 8pm on a Saturday night and said
"See ya when I see ya",
you received a badge for each achievement as a parent.
Eighteen years after leaving hospital as a first time parent,
that shirt, along with some very old, curdled milk marks on the shoulder
limp under the weight of those badges.
(Eat your hearts out, you Scouts.
You can't compete with a parent)
The front and back are covered in them.
All the milestones of a parent.
You got your teething badge.
Your toilet training badge.
Your sleeping-through-the-night badge.
Your survived-the-first-day-of-school badge.
Your birthday cake decorating badge.
Your treat-the-whole-family-for-head-lice-more-than-once badge.
Your getting weed on badge.
Your tooth fairy and Santa training badges.
No wearing of curdled milk stains like a badge of honour.
You have a curdled milk stain badge of honour.
And, on each sleeve, the ooh-aah special ones.
Those badges you get because, as a parent,
you have done that extra little bit for your child
or have had to deal with particularly difficult circumstances.
I know that the time that I had to deal with toddler's poo in aisle three
of the local hardware store
would have been much easier to bear had I known that I was going to get a badge for it.
(OK That's a lie. It was messy and hideous and possibly mortifying at the time
and no bloody badge would have made it anything but unpleasant)
That third bout of mastitis would have been so much less excruciating
if I had just had a badge to look forward to.
(OK That's also a lie. It was foul and excruciating
and I'd much rather have the antibiotics than a friggin' badge)
We are currently working on our " Unswallowing" badge
(OK...yeah....the cleaning up your kids' vomit badge)
Obviously as parents with 25 years of "children time" under our belt,
we are not new to vomiting.
But we want to go for the advanced vomiting badge.
Want isn't the right word.
No choice in going for this badge.
We are 11 days in to a bout of gastroenteritis that has repeatedly affected everyone
in the house apart from me
(I am claiming that I developed immunity to anything involving
my stomach or intestines last year.)
Now cleaning up someone else's vomit is one of those things
that is hard to stomach
(Oh, that pun was oh, so, so intended)
There should be no expectation in life for anyone other than a parent of a child under the age of
?16 years to have to deal
with another person's upchuck.
Close friends and partners may chose to do so
(which I am thankful for after the way my hens' night ended.
But that's another story involving too much alcohol and very windy roads)
but only parents really have to do so.
(The Parenting with Unconditional Love manual
says so under Point 27: Bodily fluids.)
And, like poo, just because it comes from your offspring,
doesn't make it any less repulsive a task.
In fact, I would argue that vomitus is more repulsive than poo
but that is only my personal opinion
and I am sure that you have your own.
One of my earlier memories as a young child was of the easy job I had (which was lying in bed
and vomiting all over the carpet)
and the hideous task my parents had (which was cleaning the carpet)
I was interested to see that we, as parents, have passed on the carrot gland to our children.
That is right up there with the evolutionary benefits of wisdom teeth and appendixes
as far as I can tell.
One of the children of the house has an impeccable track record,
having never missed the bucket or the toilet.
Unlike the cats, she does not seem to have a substrate preference for carpets and hallway runners.
One child, however, couldn't get it into a contained space if you put him on the edge of an empty
Olympic sized swimming pool, leant him over and directed him to vomit
in the empty space stretching out before him.
He thinks, after the event, that his knack of spewing
360 degrees is really quite amusing.
So, while we don't have a badge-covered shirt to dangle in his face when his first child arrives,
and an advanced "Vomit cleaning" merit to point to,
we have told him in no uncertain terms that we will be laughing
when it is his turn to earn his Unswallowing badge.
I am pretty sure that there isn't a Scout badge to prepare him for that day.