As my beloved adopted nation, the Netherlands, mourns the loss of nearly 200 of their countrymen in the MH17 tragedy, I find myself contemplating the world we’re bringing our girl into and how we can pass on a message of peace …
I’m sure there are many reasons why people choose to bring children into this world. Maybe it’s the strong biological urge to continue the species. Or, even, some sense that it’s the right thing to do. For me, I have a happy life full of adventure and opportunities. I want to give another person the chance to enjoy this strange miracle, as part of a family that’s ready to surround and support them with security and love. And, ideally, into a world where no-one would try to harm them.
The moment I found out I was pregnant, a protective instinct kicked in. My preferences come second to making sure this baby is growing safely and healthily, whether that’s by stopping drinking or avoiding hazardous sports. I know Charlie feels this too. I was told we’d experience any stories related to children more intensely with ours on the way. That’s why I can hardly stand to listen to the news reports. How you could deal with your child being taken from you during a seemingly safe activity, like taking a flight, I don’t know.
Some people have amazing strength and grace. It is right and just that the world is outraged about the loss of innocent lives. But you read reports from parents who aren’t looking for retribution. They’re looking for answers, justice, but mainly to get the bodies of their loved ones home. I can try my best to emulate this astonishing character. In the words of (unexpectedly) Carlos Santana: “The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
I hope to raise a child in a world where freedom, liberty and tolerance are their norm. I’m not so naive to think that in six weeks the many conflicts around the world are going to be resolved. But, unlike my Grandparents, as a British / adopted Dutch citizen I’ve never lived in a land at war and I hope she never will either. That’s another reason why the MH17 crash is so shocking – victims from a country in no way involved in the conflict caught up in it. I’m sure the citizens of every war-torn country wish for the same. It’s always the minority, wreaking havoc on the rest.
So, my last lesson for my daughter along with an open heart and peaceful nature is an open mind. Whoever it transpires was responsible for this horror – Russia, Ukraine – that doesn’t mean we should feel anger towards everyone of that nationality. Most people just want to be able to peacefully live their lives. If I can make sure my family and I are among them, that will be a small contribution.