The world can certainly do better than this. Here's why.

Wednesday, November 11


On 19 October, I posted this article with this comment: While I cannot recommend reading this, I urge you to. This is another of the effects of war in 2009. End war.

This was the exchange with a friend that followed (all times are GMT +9):

Her - 19 October 2009: 0156

I read that, and while I don't doubt that it happens, as a child of a soldier who was deployed in the Gulf War, I survived. I was 6. I didn't try to commit suicide. Leads me to think that maybe there was something else going on with those kids, some other factors that were not discussed in that article.

8p - 0215:

The Gulf War lasted 210 days. 379 dead Americans, 776 wounded (Wikipedia).

OEF/OIF has been eight years. Wounded and PTSD cases number scores of thousands. The number of dead are beyond 5000 Americans. Not to mention 129 Canadians in Afghanistan. The "other" dead as a result of these invasions? Millions (a Biology student cannot deny the Lancet report). Admittedly not at hands of American military bullets, but certainly as a result of the invasion and occupation and the "services" of "security" contractors.

Some American kids have known only bloody war their whole lives. This seven year old has. Don't discredit his experience by comparing to yours.


You're not thinking enough.

Her - 0241:

I'm not saying that their experience isn't worse than mine, at all. It is. The two wars now are horrific and no child should experience that. And that's my point. A seven (SEVEN) year old should NOT know what war is. They should NOT know what death is. But these kids obviously do. So my question is, why aren't their parents doing enough to prevent their kids from seeing and knowing what is happening? Why are they subjecting their kids to this? A seven year old is too young to be able to handle this, as it shows in their suicide attempts. Any sane parent or guardian (because not all military children have one parent at home) would know better than to tell their child that their daddy (or mommy) is being shot and and might not come home. When my father was gone, my mother never had the news channel on when I was in the room. She told me that daddy was "on a trip" and that he would be home soon. And I was happy. And my father did come home. If he hadn't, I'm sure my mother would have found a better way to explain it to me than "a bad man shot daddy with a gun and he died a horrific and bloody death", which is what it seems like these kids are being told.

How young is too young? Well that's for the parents to judge. Certainly, different age levels can hear different things. But a seven year old does NOT need to hear anything other than "daddy is on a trip".


I'm thinking plenty [sic] enough. A seven year old does not need to know what death is.

8p - 0307:

Oh, you're earning it now.

"why aren't their parents doing enough to prevent their kids from seeing and knowing what is happening?"

W. T. F.

Do you actually mean to say that this kid, the child of an armed forces veteran, should first learn about his father's job — if it comes to that — the day he dies? Kid's know. Kid's have more access to information now than ever. Kid's will find out if their parents lie to them. Especially the big lies.

What is it with America and avoiding dealing with the truth? Why is it that the only American childhood is in Disneyland with a complete suspension of disbelief?

Your happy childhood was a fabrication. You've said it yourself, you don't know why your father is a vet after having shot missiles from a destroyer posted 1000 miles from the front. Your father never had to worry, so, I guess, neither did your mother. Your mother never had to worry, so, I guess, neither did you. Maybe your mother was the one engaging in self-deception. You, then, were just the by-product. You should ask her.

If your child's father was sweeping and clearing an urban war zone, and if you were the one facing that reality on the home front (knowing how you deal), doesn't your child deserve to know that his/her father is in harm's way? Doesn't your child deserve to know why his mother is so anxious? or depressed? or angry? or drunk?

Especially, ESPECIALLY, when the reason has be lost in a cloud of deception?

Sure, there will be extenuating circumstances. Just like you said. But, bottom line, this kid grew up to the point that he has. There are lots of kids like him. War now is FUBAR. Too many innocent non-combatants are caught in the crossfire, physically and psychologically.

Her - 20 October 2009 (about noon, edited for content)

I firmly believe that there are somethings that children can handle and somethings they can't. One of those is death. It obviously traumatizes a child... Why would you want to cause your child that amount of anguish? Are you you looking to have a whole generation of messed up people?... Just so that they are more "educated"?!

There are a lot of things that military dependents from previous wars don't know. I knew as a child that my father was in the navy, that he went to sea on his ship a lot. I had friends whose fathers were away too, and they all knew the same things I did. Why would a child of 6 need to know that their father was being shot at? When they are older, and more mature, and ready to know why their father didn't come home, then yes, they can know.

... don't you DARE tell me that I can't deal. [Name removed] is in Iraq right now, being shot at. And you think I don't care? That I'd rather not know what's going on? I surf the news EVERY DAY to see if I can hear anything. Yes, it's driving me nuts. And if I had a child, HELL NO I wouldn't tell them what was happening. You obviously don't care about children, [8p]. No child should have the weight of being an adult when they are that young.

... dont EVER say that my mother was involved in self deception. You wouldn't know a woman who was more brave, more strong, or more resilient. My mother kept our house moving while my father was gone. She volunteered to help other families, she ran the base red cross. She is the epitome of a military wife. She didn't let us for a moment worry about our father, because it was the best thing for a 6 and 4 year old.

I thought you had more compassion than this, [8p]. A child is just that, a child. They don't need to grow up so fast.

8p - 1924

This will be my last attempt to sway you on this. Please, at least consider that what I am saying here is grounded in compassion, as has all that has gone before this. Compassion, because I believe that the conduct of warfare now is, itself, a trauma to all of us. We are all connected now, all humans everywhere share all of the same concerns. This is part of the reason why veiling truth from anyone, spinning a beautiful tale, will fail in time.

You've made it plain. You would rather not know. That's your choice. I've made a different choice. I've had a life chock full of lies. I've seen the effect that the beautiful cover story has when it falls apart. Disillusionment is shattering. Losing the illusion, do you simply build a replacement? I understand, everything that we tell ourselves is just that, a story. But, our stories will not fail and shatter us if they are true.

If you are going to tell a story, especially to a child, that story had better not have any holes. Today, that's a sheer impossibility unless that child is cut off from reality. Further, what happens when that child enters the world? The dissonance between what was "true" in the story and what is true in life causes a whole new set of problems. Maybe I was wrong. I don't know your mother. That your mother never cracked beneath the stories she told despite what she felt is a testament to her character. I know you. If she was as you are, then she denied her own feelings for your sake. One cannot be compassionate toward a person who denies or rejects that suffering exists. Covering up your own feelings, masking your reactions, concealing your motives is as bad for a person as it is for the children they teach. The compassion I have for both parents and children is manifest in saying that the truth is the only way to go.

Think about this. You are a person of deep emotion, as is exampled in your response. This is not a weakness, it is who you are. To deny this about yourself would change who you are, either to yourself or to your child. Where is does the truth lie? Even now, day-by-day with [name removed] over there, don't you have good days and bad days? Is it really the best to deny how you feel? Take it from a pro. I'm only learning now how to deal properly with my emotions instead of leaning on the "OFF" switch every time I feel something beyond my control. It would be truly sad if you've moved so far in the opposite direction as to warrant deadening your emotions like that.

Recheck your developmental psychology. Kids develop concepts about death as early as three years old. Certainly by the time they are four. Are a squashed bug, a floating fish, or a dead bird things you would lie to your child about? What if the other kids get to your kid first? There is nothing that can prevent children from learning. You had better intend to be a part if the process rather a shield from it. Parents help kids to understand the experiences of life in their own time.

I never said or implied that an adult concept of death should be forced onto a child at too early an age. Whatever concept of death is in the mind of the child, that truth should be told at the very least. Whether this death as similar to sleep (first stage), death as irreversible (second stage), or death as universal (third stage). Skipping the first two stages would, without a doubt, be traumatic. I would never induce such trauma and you know that. I just would not lie. You made it sound like I'd shoot a man in Reno just so my kid could watch him die.

I'll say it again: Parents help kids to understand the experiences of life in their own time. Parenting can't be the effective concealment of truth until a child is "ready." For many things, there's no such thing as a right time. You can't circle a day on a calendar. The whole reason that a child must be told the truth is that their own observations have to fit with what they are being told. If these two things do not fit, any person becomes confused. When harsh reality is unmasked, then is just as traumatizing — sometimes more so because of deception — than having the truth in the first place. A massive series of lies is ever more so damaging. This is what our present generation is coming to terms with. A generation of adults and a generation of kids and young adults are presently undergoing horrible pains from a series of beautiful lies spun for sixty years.

Certainly, there are things that are beyond a childs capacity to grasp. Death is not one of these things. A four-year old can grasp mortality. A seven-year old, with or without the beautiful lie, can connect death and suffering. Suicide is the product of suffering. It is with this I am being compassionate. It is this suffering that, from your reaction and by your assertions, is to best to be denied or buried or hidden. That's not compassion at all. That's jumping to the first stage of grief.

I know that you deal with [name removed] being away. I know that every family serves alongside their loved ones in harm's way. Here's hoping that despite the things you're dealing with, that today can be a good day.