Memory: I am seven years old. It’s the late afternoon and my mum is sleeping. I’m lounging on the couch watching ABC kids. Suddenly, my favourite show is interrupted by coverage on the war in Iraq. I lay there, watching and waiting until it’s over. Seconds turn to minutes and minutes turn into an hour. After a while I know my show won’t come back on again. But I continue watching, half in interest and half due to sheer boredom. I am confused, I am in awe. This world doesn’t seem real, yet I can sense that it hits close to home. I’m afraid that mum will walk in at any moment, because I know these images aren’t things a seven year old should be watching. At some point, I do decide to switch off, but this afternoon remains in my mind forever. It marked my first true engagement with the issues and world of war.
It seems like not much has changed and yet everything has at the same time. The world is still complicated but it is so much more so than my seven year old self could have imagined. I am no longer naive and unknowing; some days I wish I were, but then I feel ashamed and guilty of the privilege that this would imply. I feel angry when conversations with friends and family seem so goddamn petty, but in situations that I am encouraged to speak up, I can’t find my voice. I feel too misinformed or not knowledgeable enough.
I constantly battle with not knowing how I can make a change. I go through cycles in which I feel too little or too much, and when either happens, I wish it were the other way around. Sometimes, I feel the weight of the world on my chest because I can’t handle how it can be so spectacularly cruel yet so incredibly kind at the same time. Like most people, I wish everything could just be okay, but unlike my seven year old self, I know that will never be the case.
Things may get better, but they will never be ‘the best’. I guess I find it hard to get my head around that.