Sunday, 6 June 2010

THE MAKING OF THIS SCRIBE

It all started when, as a happy schoolboy, I was hurt and disillusioned on discovering there was no Santa Claus. I began to question other things my parents, church, and school had told me. My parents encouraged me to read books and newspapers, and were among the first to get a radio that brought news into the house. Among others, they would listen to Father Coughlin but his strident attacks, especially on the British Empire, left me highly critical. I bought many 5¢ Boy's magazines that arrived faithfully on time every week via sea mail from London, UK, filled with stories from all parts of the world that gave me a child-like faith in the British Empire but, as I talked to many Boer War and WWI veterans, I began to realize that even it had flaws. From these magazine I got the names and addresses of pen pals and was soon corresponding with girls and boys in the Gold Coast (Ghana), South Africa. Germany, the UK, and Malaysia. I soon learned that there were many ways of looking at the same situation, but only the Malaysian survived WWII to re-establish our correspondence.

Until age 11, I was fascinated by things military. In Toronto there were many parades of soldiers in smart uniforms with flashing bayonets and good marching bands. I took pride in the many stories of Canadian victories in WWI which led me to talk to veterans of the Boer War and WWI , including 2 uncles, who gave me a disturbing insight into the true nature of wars. That, and watching boys cruelly killing a skunk and shooting crows and squirrels made me a pacifist. We then moved to Port Hope a town of under 5,000 people where everyone knew everyone else. It amazed me that there were so many Churches of different slants on the Christian religion and then there were my Jewish and Islamic friends. As teenagers we would discuss religion but it was never a barrier.

I began collecting newspaper clippings and amassing books. Today I have 2,300, not counting stacks of magazines I hate to throw out.

During WWII the cosmopolitan nature of Allied Forces and especially my POW camps revealed good, bad, and indifferent people in every group, friend or foe, and emphasized the fact that the majority simply longed to live out lives in harmony with their neighbours.

Following retirement in 1966 from the RCAF at age 47 I toiled for a degree in history from the University of Colorado, a branch of which was starting in Colorado Springs where NORAD was my final RCAF transfer.

We had small classes and good professors, but two of them were strongly opposed to US foreign policy. They were right in many instances but one went, I thought, much too far, and I found myself, as the only Canadian in the class, the only one who continued to argue with him in favour of the US. Friends told me to shut up and go along or my grades would suffer. They did but only in his class.

As I now lack the energy and money to travel the world I rely on the 23 magazines to which I subscribe and a wide variety of books that are so prolific in espousing different points of view, making it most difficult to extract only the truth, so this scribe, like everyone else, is far from infallible. Yet, having shed blood in a horrible war I felt had to be fought, I remain convinced it is my responsibility to strive for a peaceful world that is fair to all who are thrust into it. I do not expect you all to agree with all of my interpretations but, if I manage to keep you thinking and questioning and retaining a respect for all living things, then I have served my purpose. I do regret, however, that so few of you, armed with facts, debate my views. The bravest thing a person can do is to think. The majority of you out there remain silent. A few of my far-right friends have engaged me in verbal battle which I enjoy as it does not transcend our friendships. My views have evolved over the years and I hope theirs will too. A million years from now will anyone care?
Ye Olde Scribe, georgesweanor@comcast.net


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