17 May 2016

Is 'Play-play' a Frightening Reality?

Tom Eaton is a South African screenwriter, satirist and best selling author amongst a heap of other accolades. Among the towering mound,he is also a writer for a local paper. Eaton writes for The Times, a daily national paper. The following is an extract from today's feature:
"But now, as he looked at the toy soldiers strewn across the floor, his face was pale and unsmiling. Even though I was not yet 10, I realised that something had hurt him as he knocked and looked down. It had slipped through his defences because he had never expected to encounter it here, in the room of a child. He leaned against the doorframe, and seemed enormously tired.
"This is a game?" he asked. It didn't sound like a question. It sounded like an accusation. Then the real question came.
"But why would you play this?"
Later, seeing my embarrassment, my parents explained.
Our guest was German and when he was in his late teens he had been drafted into Hitler's navy and sent aboard the battleship Tirpitz. The ship was relentlessly hunted and spent the war limping from one Norwegian fjord to another, where steep mountains and shallow water offered some protection from the British bombers and submarines that pursued it. Forty years later, that fear still clung to our guest: many of the Cape's coastal roads, where mountains plunge into the sea, made him anxious.
Our guest survived the attack and the war. Millions didn't. All of his brothers were drafted and killed. Hitler sent his mother a medal for surrendering so many of her babies to the meat grinder.
"But why would you play this?" At the time, I thought I heard disbelief in his voice and that was why I was embarrassed. I thought he was saying: "You stupid child, how could you take any pleasure from war?"
Now, though, I think I understand his tone better. It wasn't disbelief. It was despair.
And yet here I was: a child, playing at mass murder. Somewhere in those first eight or nine years I had learned that war was fun. And I think that's why the kind, anxious German felt overcome with despair. We had learned nothing."
Here, Eaton was a child and found himself, due to societal cues, diminishing a gruesome event into an enjoyable game. We still do this today. In South Africa, with particular reference to 2008, our nation was plagued by xenophobic attacks which resulted in several deaths...yet strikingly similar events occurred, with the same results last year, and continues took plague our nation daily. Many aspects of any country can be seen as negative, but it becomes our choice in how we respond to an event. And really, we have two choices: remain on the floor with our toy soldiers or, tightly buckle our $1000 leather belts and pull up our 'Ugg' boots and face the issues head on.
Maybe we're indoctrinated to think that serious global issue, like wars, are just games and are so far removed from our every day, safe-haven bubbles that they don't beckon a second of our thoughts to its effects.  We can't act innocent...or oblivious forever. The world can be fun, but it isn't a game; maybe it's time we ought to stop playing. Do these attacks on people,cultures,religions, ideologies and belief systems of humanity  devalue and become 'play-play' in our minds?
Eaton's perspective of this event is altered by thirty-or-so years' experience. It is interesting to note the expression of "despair" on his guest's face, now made visible due to experience, where in it's place once lurked "disbelief". 
The article makes for a very interesting read and a poignant comparison between South Africa then, now and its future.
Generations pass and wars continue. We've learnt nothing.
For the full article visit: http://www.rdm.co.za/lifestyle/2016/05/17/revolutionaries-won-t-do-any-actual-fighting.-they-ll-leave-that-to-you

Till next time-
Steph

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