Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hugging Some Play-Dough Soldiers (Or, Some Notes on Changing the World)

Yesterday, Jen and I boarded a train from York Station to Leeds, Tyler in tow. It would be our fist time out of York as a family in approximately the entirety of our time here: seven months. Life without a car certainly does wonders to a family's desire to stay local. If we can't walk there, chances are we're not going.

But the Leeds trip arose as Jen and a friend were meeting with an organization called The Joanna Project. The organization works with women seeking to leave prostitution. While Jen and her friend met with the founders of the group, Tyler and I, along with another dad and his daughter, walked to the nearby Royal Armouries.

First of all: metal.

Upon entering the museum, we approached a massive hall that was aptly named the Hall of Steel. It was more like a monument to swords, axes, spikes, jousting sticks, and a whole host of other very sharp, pointy objects for which I knew no names.

I soon saw that the Royal Armouries was just a euphemism for Museum of All Kinds of Killing Objects and the History of How Those Killing Objects Have Been Utilized in Various Wars. Even so, the museum had wide open floors made of strong wood, and very few tourists--and it was also free. Thus, it made for an excellent place in which to allow our toddlers to run free.

To run like the wind.

Then fly like really fast running animals.

Then run and fly and run and fly some more. And then run. And then poop and pee and run yet again. And fly again.

If anything, the sight of so much weaponry sent the following notions drumming in my head: for real? This is what a massive portion of humanity's history is about: who fought who, when, and with what weapons?

Amazed by the extent to which we go to kill one another, Tyler performed the only appropriate act that can be performed in a place like this. On the third floor, exploring modern warfare, Tyler walked up to a mannequin soldier and asked me, "What his name, Daddy?"

I responded, "I don't know his name, son. Maybe it is Sam."

"He can talk to me, Daddy?"

"No, he can't talk to you. He's pretend. He's not real."

Tyler looked at the soldier wearing combat gear, a hard look on his camouflaged face, a gun in his hands.

"He not real, Daddy?"

"No, he's pretend...he's made out of play-dough. He's like a play-dough man."

Tyler looked at me, then looked at the soldier. Finally, he asked me, "I can give him one hug?"

"Sure. Of course you can."

Ten minutes later, after Tyler had hugged all of the play-dough soldiers on the floor, we began to make preparations to leave the museum and meet up with Jennifer and her friend. Ironically, a certain synthesis is possible from the two reasons we went to Leeds: both exist because of the demands and desires of men.

Warfare and the abuse and use of women.

I think my two-year old son had it right--that we could some day learn as men to love rather than kill, to love rather than lust. If we can, perhaps my son will one day take his son to a museum holding monuments to peace, not war, and his wife might visit an organization researching how the use and abuse of women was stopped, rather than why it continues.

Maybe such a day will come.