A Brief Meditation – Helga Van Iten

Although I was born in Brooklyn, New York in early July, 1936, the vagaries of life back then were such that my mother and I were obliged to sail back to Germany in September of that same year. (My father’s return trip to New York had been cancelled by the German Government.) Consequently, I lived through the entire war-sometimes far out in the country where my grandparents owned and operated farms, sometimes back in Wilhelmshaven-I remember vividly late-night fire bombings, day after day living in huge bomb shelters-the city where we were living during those years, 1936-45, had been bombed 253 times-the British by day, the Americans by night. All the while I thought of myself as an American, I was proud but could not speak about my loyalties, my feelings…my thoughts today take me back to those days and I think about what life must surely be like now for the children of Ukraine, and I wonder what can be so important about Matters of State that would cause a leader of one country to put the children of another country in Harm’s way. What is it that causes them to grant Reason relief from its duties at such a perilous time? I must say, I must confess that of late the state of affairs in eastern Europe-most especially in Ukraine-take me back to a time I would rather have not lived. Before wishing one another “Good Night,” we share our thoughts about the day just ending, recalling some event, some person or persons who brought us pleasure during the day. If only we could let the people of Ukraine know-those children, their families, their friends, their neighbors-“We care!” And give real meaning to our words!

[Perhaps, the historian, Tacitus, had it right when he suggested ironically “…one sure way of bringing an end to wars is to forbid the bearing of children for one generation perhaps more. People might then come to enjoy a peace that lasts on and on and when there are no people, peace forever more.” In this We are not of a like mind, for we are the children of Hope!]