The fall is upon us.
In some places, the air is crisp, the apples are crisper and winter woollens replace shorts and flip flops in our wardrobes. In other places, the sun continues to beat down mercilessly, even as shopping malls drag out plastic Christmas trees sprinkled with fake snow.
For us, the most significant day in the November calendar – aside from two special grandma birthdays – is Remembrance Day which falls on 11 November. It is a day when we remember the countless lives lost during the horrific world wars and the enormous price paid by so many to secure the precious freedoms that we have today. It is a travesty that even now, so many years on, these hard-won freedoms are not enjoyed universally and that wars continue to rage on in too many parts of the world. The suffering endured by so many continues unabated. Read the news and it is hard not to despair at the state of our world and the condition of humankind. We are capable of such equal measures of brilliance and destruction that it takes one’s breath away.
This month’s focus is on stories that show us the resilience, courage, strength and beauty of the human spirit in the midst of, and after, devastating wars and armed conflicts. The terrifying events in German-controlled Vichy during World War II and during Kristallnacht are seen through the eyes of a young girl in hidden and the eyes of a cat in Benno and the Night of Broken Glass respectively. The meaning of Remembrance Day is gently explored in the heart-breaking picture book Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion. The experiences of refugees and those displaced by war are chronicled in the poignant middle-grade novels, Home of the Brave and The War That Saved My Life , the inspiring non-fictional A Long Walk to Water and the moving graphic novel, Illegal . All these stories are tragically moving, but they are necessary reading. If these stories are seared into our consciousness and stay with us, perhaps we will lose the will to fight. Perhaps then, we will lose the inclination to hurt others.
Maureen, Anna & Ben