Saturday, July 29, 2006

Grateful for every day?

Yesterday, a colleague asked me whether growing up in a time of war had changed me. Did I savour each day of my life?

Given his apparent expectations, My answer must have been disappointing. The fact is that, like most people I know, I live a life disproportionately dominated by mundane concerns. I plan for and worry about the future as though I were sure to live a long life.

One thing that I have learned from the war was the importance of a good education. When you hope to make a future for yourself outside your country of birth, education is your only passport. It is a sacred thing.

I remember many people using the war as a pretext for the way they lived. Those who stole or fought with militias said that the circumstances of life necessitated their behaviour. Those who turned to God, pointed to the absurdity of the things of this world. Everything was truly ephemeral and almost everything was pointless.

I was surrounded mainly by people in the latter category. I think their love for God can be matched by some whom I have met in the West, but not their complete dependence on the Divine. Those people live truly holy lives. They endangered their lives to help others and gave of their necessity to care for those worse off. They lived in the world but were not part of it.

When my students ask me "why will I ever need to know this?", I sometimes answer "I had no need to learn English when I was at school". How can I not be grateful for the level of language instruction in my birth country, when my passport to a future came with an Australian visa pasted in?

Here am I, with a healthy family and a job of my choosing. How lucky I am! Yes, I am grateful for every day.

Elias.

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