Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
At bedtime this evening, as is often our ritual, I lay down next to my son on his bed and allowed him to ask me three questions about whatever was on his mind.
The first question he asked was about the origins of the word “question” and “answer,” which I told him I didn’t know, but would look up later and then tell him in the morning. He was nonplussed but willing to concede the delay.
“Question,” I now know, evolved from the Latin root quaerere while “answer” evolved from Germanic and old English roots. The Latin root meaning “answer” is spondere, which is how I’m presuming we get the word “response.”
The second question was what other country I’d be curious to live in. As somebody who has not been fortunate enough to reside in any country other than this one, save for the first month of my life, I told him that I had a long list of countries I’d be interested in experiencing.
The third question he asked was why we’d been attacked by Iran.
Shortly before bed, he’d wandered up behind me while I read the news, and he saw the headlines about Iranian missiles fired at American bases in Iraq. So tonight as my son was trying to fall asleep I tried to gently explain to him that the country where he was born had a very contentious relationship with Iran that was largely of our own making. I provided broad strokes about how we had once compelled the much smaller nation to being ruled by a man who did our bidding and how the people overthrew that man to form a republic on their own terms, and that our governments have not been friendly for a very long time. I explained to him that the Iranian people are not their government any more than the American people are theirs, that we in fact have so many more things in common than we do reasons to hate each other.
I should have mentioned soccer. He saw the Iranian national team playing during the group stages of the 2018 World Cup. I regret now not mentioning soccer.
I told him that a week ago our president had ordered an attack that had killed one of Iran’s top leaders, and that the missiles they fired were in response. I expressed to him that this is what could happen when people elect a bully as their president, somebody who wants to show everybody what a tough guy he is, and he asked me why people would elect somebody like that. He asked me what could happen in a war and I told him that many people are often hurt or killed. He asked if the missiles could reach Chicago and I told him that I didn’t believe that they could. I told him I wanted him to feel safe, and that I hoped he slept well, and that I would see him in the morning.
My wife and my son are asleep on the other side of our home and I am up thinking about how my son turns eight years old in two weeks, how he has never been alive during a moment that his homeland has not been at war. I think about all of the other places I might choose to live as if there were still any place on the planet that we could possibly avoid the damage that this regime is hellbent on doing in service to ids and egos both individual and national. I think about the nature of questions and answers, and answers that lead to more questions, and the approaching point of my psyche when I no longer have any useful responses to give.