My mother was born in Germany in 1943. Her father was a soldier in the German army. She was the eldest child of 4 and in the early 60s sometime the family emigrated to Canada. Sometime before that she met a man, a member of the United States Air Force that was briefly stationed in Germany. At some point following the move to Canada she traveled to Illinois to reunite with said man and they were, at some point, married.
I know almost nothing else about that part of my history. She never spoke to me much about this part of her past. She never went back to Germany. We rarely went to Canada.
In regards to my grandfather… truth be told, I hardly knew the man. He died when I was fairly young, just barely a teenager if I recall. As I said, he, and that part of my family, lived in Canada, while I grew up in Illinois. I have very few memories of him, but I generally recall that, to me at least, he seemed a kindly gentleman. I have no idea whatsoever his political leanings or ideologies. I know nothing about his time as a soldier, other than that he was part of the German Army in World War II. I suppose to many, that would imply that he was a Nazi, but I have no evidence to inform on such a claim one way or the other. I would say, that I think to suggest that all German soldiers in World War II had such leanings is nonsense.
I do not think about Nazis very often. Hardly at all in fact, outside of watching movies. And then there is the madness of current events.
I do not generally think that much about immigration policy. But again, the madness of current events.
I have thought a bit more about the concept of Nationalism, and in general think that it is deplorable, in whatever form. I have no sympathy for patriotism, as I see it existing as a variant of Nationalism. I have little regard for ideologies and religion. For essentially the same reasons. Racism. Sexism. Same thing. Farcical constructs meant for a singular purpose; to create division.
As Peter Gabriel once sang, “How can we be in if there is no outside… Not one of us.”
I am the youngest son of a German-American immigrant, whose father was a soldier in the German Army in World War II.
As I have noted, I have no window into the mind of that man. I have not the remotest sense of what he might have been fighting for all those years ago and so far away. I do not know what brought him to move his family to Canada. Based on the people I do know from that side of the family, being his offspring, and theirs, I cannot fathom that he would have in any way condoned the madness of current events.
I am able to sit here writing this now, without fear of reprisal, because one ideology won out over another, and World War II came to an end. Concurrently, a man that fought for the losing side, was able to travel to another country, one that was part of the winning side, presumably in search of a better life.
I wish I knew more about that part of my past and it saddens me that I am now subject to pondering it in light of the madness of current events.
As I write this, the Boy plays happily nearby. As some of you reading this know, he was adopted. For whatever reason the Wife and I have not been able to have our own. We were chosen by a young couple that felt we would be an acceptable option as parents for a child they felt they could not support.
The Boy is technically of “mixed race”. His birth mother was of African American descent. We live in a place where not long ago, such a thing was illegal. People fought and died to change that and, to a certain degree anyway, one ideology won out over another, and segregation came to an end. But we all know that is not the whole story, especially in light of the madness of current events.
I am just one person trying to make my way in the world. My general preference is to keep my head down and go about my business, trying not to concern myself overmuch with the affairs of others. Nor give them cause to concern themselves with me and mine.
I have never been to Charlottesville. Never really given it much thought at all. Amazingly, in pondering it these past few days, and the events that transpired there as a sort of summary of the madness of current events on the world stage, I am dumbfounded at how much those events have direct bearing on my own reality and existence.
What this says to me, even more than I already accept as true, is that we are all connected in this madness. These events effect all of us, and through the arc of history, such events are bigger than any one singular person. We must look past our own thoughts and opinions and consider how what we think and say and do figures into that arc. We are all in this together and division always has the same result. It makes everything smaller, fragmented. Broken.
I want the Boy to be able to live in a world where everyone has the right to exist; as they are, as they want to be. The madness of current events would suggest that we are heading away from such a world.
We cannot go backwards. We cannot continue to divide.