When I was nine and Iran was in the midst of its very long war with the neighboring Iraq, our life resembled much of what we are facing today. A life full of uncertainty, fear, food rations, and an ongoing battle with a vicious enemy.
I was only in fourth-grade when day after day we were ushered down to the school’s basement to wait out the raid of bombs that showered down on our southern town of Shiraz. It was on one of these occasions when my entire school of about 135 girls crammed into the small basement of the school for close to an hour. That hour was perhaps the longest single hour of my life. I was away from parents and brother and kept praying silently that the sounds of the bombs that we heard were not destined for my home- that upon returning back to my cozy col-de-sac road, I would not be met with a pile of bricks, fire or worse.... I prayed, as hard as a child could, that my mother and brother were safe, that I would see them yet again.
That was the last day of my fourth-grade career, as we were then gathered and told there would be no more school the rest of the year. My walk home normally took my distracted, childish self normally 20 minutes, but that day I arrived in less than ten, breathless and wholly relieved that my house was still standing.
At the door, I was greeted by my mother, a ghostly expression on her face. As the realization washed over her that I had made it home in one piece, the relief on her face spoke volumes to me, and it was not until I became a mother myself that I understood -I mean TRULY understood - what that look meant.
The rest of that year we had our own version of distant learning…you can say that Iran, with all of its crazy, backward regime, was pretty advanced for its time. There were limited numbers of lessons projected on the national television, geared towards the different grades. We were excited that we could learn from the comfort of our living room, but truth is, there wasn’t much learning happening, no homework, no Zoom, no Google Classroom, and everyday eventually turned into one long recess.
Can you relate?
These past few weeks there has been so many references to our country being in a state of war.
The truth is, we are in fact in a state of war…a war with a tiny virus that has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, and we, as a county, as a society, as a people will feel the aftermath of it for many, many years to come. A war with an invader that is as ruthless as our savviest and the most cunning enemy that we have ever faced. Only difference is this enemy has managed to penetrate the very fabric of our lives and is not fought with our bravest soldiers’ continents away. This invisible intruder is fought with science, doctors and nurses, as the rest of us trek on, praying and hoping that those on the front lines can come up with a cure.
I don’t know much about you, but I personally feel the ripples of this war more than I ever did with the wars that the US fought with Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
This war is being fought on US soil. Here. Right where we live. Without a gun shot, riffle, or bomb exploding.
The last time that a war was fought on this great country’s land was back in 1861…The American Civil War!
Let’s wrap our heads around that for a moment.
So, what is there for us to expect after all of this is over?
The only thing that every war-torn country can count on: its people coming together, united, more deeply connected and stronger. Because when you go through something as significant and as life altering as a war with your county men and women, the world starts to look a little different.
We realize that we are more alike than we are different.
Suddenly we realize where our priorities lay. That it’s not the famed reality tv star that our son and daughter should look up to, or the millionaire athlete that should be honored with a ticker tape parade. We realize how depended we are on the men who pick up our trash, or the lady at the supermarket, just as much as the nurses and doctors on the front line.
Let’s hope that we emerge from this war with a new sense of “we”, better, more appreciative, and more aware of the world around us.
Because this is one for the history books. Because we are a “we” and are greater than the sum of our parts.