A friend of mine, having another citizenship than mine, once told me that he would not want to fight in a war, that people are all the same no matter the country they come from and that, at a higher level, efforts should be made in order for human lives not to be endangered anymore and that hatred between nations should be eradicated. As far as I can understand, looking around me, such efforts are rare. Moreover, hate speeches are being heard more often and it seems they always have listeners and supporters. We love to find scapegoats among those that we do not understand and we prefer to marginalize them in order to keep us safe.
By learning from the mistakes of the past we can avoid tragedies from happening again. But for this we must find an interest in the past, and we must be willing to accept that we do not know it all just for being at some years distance from the past.
‘The Last Witnesses’ by Svetlana Alexievich is not a book that you can leave with on holiday or read while enjoying a cocktail. Somehow, it needs a different setting, and even a different state of mind. But reading it is essential. Not just for us, individuals, but for the entire humanity. Adults reminisce about the World War II when they were children and their stories are shattering, but relevant for nowadays adults that can make efforts so that the history does not repeat itself.
One story impressed me a lot. A woman confessing that the war caused her not to understand the notion of strangers. Becoming orphans, she and her brother were saved and helped by strangers and all were ‘of our kin’.
The meanings of country and people fade in the face of war and transcend hideous nationalisms.I advise you to read this book and to teach your children to be tolerant and curious regarding the past of humanity. Only in this manner can we offer them a better world, which they can inherit.