By Ken Stern 

Whose kids? Our kids

From the editor—


November 8, 2023

It is a week after the school children of La Conner and many of their parents, families and friends swarmed up First Street in the town’s annual Halloween parade. Last weekend kids of all ages were on stage at the Lincoln Theatre, performing as Munchkins, crows, poppies, snowflakes and many more imaginative characters in wonderful performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”

These are exactly the activities every child everywhere needs to be engaged in. How fortunate and privileged these Skagit Valley families are to enjoy these opportunities. And, how safe, stable and protected they are, as, indeed, are all of us.

Hopefully every one of us is contrasting the lives of our children with the death, destruction and horror ongoing in Israel and Gaza since the brutal attack by Hamas forces Oct. 14. The wanton cruelty, purposefully murdering and taking people hostage, including children, would seem unbelievable if the entire world had not witnessed it. The Israeli response, four weeks of targeted bombing of apartment buildings, hospitals and schools, multiples the mind numbing-ness of this catastrophe. The thousands of innocents dead will increase to tens of thousands, not only from the continued campaign, but from lack of medical care, disease, dehydration and hunger as the year ends.

It cannot be worse we think, but of course it is intensifying. Across the region Arab leaders are warning of the generations of hatred and revenge the devastation is nurturing. The only thing being fed in abundance is the desire to return death for death. The spiral contiues.

All leaders with access to weapons and funding are to blame. For generations, down to tomorrow’s news, politicians and corporate heads have invested in policies and plans whose only possible outcome is playing out now.

In 1953 President Eisenhower said, “This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

The world is watching hope being decimated. In the war torn lands children on all sides have lost the possibility of happy childhoods. What are their prospects for joyous, creative imaginative play?

Skagit children are following the yellow brick road and acting on stage with wizards and witches both good and evil. Caring adults are casting and coaching them as snowflakes and flying monkeys.

No Middle Eastern child will be encouraged to consider being a snowflake or imagine monkeys that fly. With devastation all around them and pain present everywhere, their world is shrunk down and consists solely of horror.

The poison has spread from leaders down to parents who will raise traumatized children in their own image to seek the death of the enemy who had inflicted this destruction on them.

That is the road children of Gaza and Israel will follow. Too many children will never know home again or ever want to go back to the rubble of what was once their homes. They are learning that war is the only answer. They will grow up planning to go to war.

To look at another art medium: In the 1964 film “Fail Safe,” the U.S. President (Henry Fonda) realizes he has to drop a nuclear bomb on New York City, knowing his wife is visiting there, after a U.S. bomber drops a nuclear warhead on Moscow. That emphasizes both an eye-for-an-eye mentality and understanding that only the largest of personal sacrifices will lead to real change in relationships with hated adversaries. In the real life Israel-Palestine tragedy, generations of blind babies have grown up to in turn sacrifice their children.

In 1965 Pete Seeger sang, “When will we ever learn?” We haven’t, yet.


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