It was a teachable moment, and I decided to talk my 12-year-old Isha through the big, bad world of international diplomacy.
I told her about Libya, and how Gaddafi — after decades of rule — is now turning on his own people who want a new government. I told her about how NATO is now bombing Libya to save those people from their own leader. I then told her about all the other places — Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf War — where Western forces stepped in ‘bravely’ to fight the ‘rogue’ leaders of these states and their armies so that justice may prevail.
Isha replied, “But mom, why must war be the only answer? Why can’t they sit down and talk about it? Why do they have to kill people?”
War is supposedly the only way to achieve peace, I said. Besides, what would happen to all the arms and ammunition companies if there were no wars, no buyers?
We then talked about how the US hunted the world over for Osama bin Laden, killing thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan in their attempts to bomb him out, and then finally found him and killed him too. And I told her about Ajmal Kasab, languishing in an Indian jail for over two years, despite being convicted of the crime of killing many innocent Indians. I told her about how certain sections of the media and citizens of India criticize the government for not hanging him already, and keeping him alive at the taxpayer’s cost. I tried to draw a parallel with the hunt to kill bin Laden, and the reluctance to hang Kasab.
And Isha said, “Well, if being Indian means being hesitant to kill someone, even if he is a terrorist, then I’m proud to be an Indian.”
Seen from a child’s eyes, things could be so very simple. The world could be a peaceful place, where people sit and talk things out, maybe dance a few songs together and laugh over ice cream. Where there is no need, really, for fighting over trifles; let everyone get a share, and let everyone be happy. Where every being is a child of God, and deserves a listen and a hug. Where life is holy and every murder is a crime, no matter how righteous the reasoning for it.
If only we’d just grow up and be children again.