I’ve been remembering my grandparents a lot lately (all of them born and raised in Europe/Russia during the revolution and WWII). They too lived through days where a democratically elected government issued executive orders that forever changed history and resulted in a lot of hatred. The fallout of those days was so horrific that most of it was never spoken of again, and the bits and pieces we do know are such that we are ok with keeping those demons of the past dormant.
But here is the thing. My grandparents never believed WWII was a one time thing. They witnessed up close what mankind could do, and always knew that mankind is apt to repeat its mistakes. They believed in the simplest of interpretations of “give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. That was all they could aim for, always. In doing so, they managed to build lives that included moments of happiness, despite the horrors they lived through. Because of my grandparents, here I am. Blessed with opportunities and a life they never could have dreamed of.
These opportunities seem at risk. The events of this past week (Muslim Ban and mass shooting in a Qc mosque), lead me to believe that my future will have strong parallels to my grandparents’ experiences.
Therefore, all I ask for is my daily bread, and the ability to forgive and be forgiven. Any more or less than that is inadequate. That is all each one of us can do right now.
Growing up, my mother’s poor health and ludicrous levels of medication messed with her appetite. Rather than skip supper, she would read to my father and I at the kitchen table. One of my favorite books she shared with us was C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. It is a satiric novel: a collection of letters written by a Senior demon (Screwtape) to his nephew Wormwood, a junior temptor. Screwtape attempts to mentor Wormwood in his first mandate to secure the damnation of a nameless British man (“the patient”). Set during WWII, its lessons about morals, temptation, resistance to sin and self-awareness have shaped my entire life. It is also very funny. A revelation that religion and faith are not mutually exclusive with humor and laughter.
Although this novel has always provided me with useful guidance, it has been rather at the forefront of my mind recently. It could have been written now, instead of 1942 – that alone confirms my belief that we are headed to terrible times. Nevertheless, I am rereading it, so as to try be aware of the traps that await us, in these times of hatred and fear.
I strongly urge y’all to listen to this particular chapter from the Screwtape Letters – narrated by John Cleese! It is rather pertinent for current day events.