I’m tired of war. Three-and-a-half books into Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World series, and I’m battled out. These books are quite popular with my boys. I read them aloud, discuss the questions with them, and extend the topics as interest and time permit. They aren’t perfect, I know, but they’ve served as a gateway to history for the three of us. But I’m sick of war.
I know the past and present were and are filled with violence of all kinds. I know the process of and outcomes from shaped nations and individuals. I appreciate that understanding the past helps our understanding of the present and should guide our decisions for the future. I’m certainly aware of my younger’s passion for all things warfare: swords, pike poles, archery, daggers, battleships, fighter planes, and guns. But I’m tired of war.
Today we finished the movie Gandhi. I’d sat through all three hours of it (in the theater!) as a middle schooler and, after reading in Story of the World IV about him, thought my older, at least, should see the movie as well. Additionally, our church has been studying Hinduism this month, and Gandhi’s name came up the previous week in children’s chapel. The time was now.
We watched over three days, and everyone hung in there. I was certain my war-loving, duct-tape-sword-toting younger son would lose interest in a man refusing to fight back physically even when attacked. But he stuck with it. Several times he asked why Indian men went ahead knowing they’d be beaten by police, why Gandhi insisted on a nonviolent path. He may not have agreed with the man, but his attention was captured. My older, with 30 minutes to go, announced he was bored. He stayed put to the end, but his interest had waned. Ah well. One out of two isn’t bad.
Next year, with four years of surveying history behind us, we’ll study the history of music and the arts. Discovering Music: 300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture will take the place of war and battles. My older’s enthused, and he’s my primary audience for the course. As a talented piano student, he’s developed an affection for the classics and wants to know more about music history. My younger’s enthusiasm is likely to be less, but who knows? He liked Gandhi. For us, history and geography seep across the curriculum, appearing in literature, language, science, and even math. Both have an appreciation and understanding of history that I failed to develop after a fine liberal arts college education. Learning along them about the ancients, the middle ages, the renaissance, and modern times, I’ve gained what I did not have before. While I don’t share my younger’s fascination with all things war, I do share his pleasure in perspective over the long haul and enjoy pondering the questions such study brings. And that’s worth quite a bit.