Lessons in diplomacy

Being exposed to the world is one thing; understanding what it is that has been exposed to you, however, is quite another.

I learned that fact early in life (I was 11), when upon eating our very first meal on the SS Homeric on our way to Europe to join my father, our party of three (mother, brother and me) found a full carafe of excellent red wine in the middle of our table, present at every meal, and not one bouncer in the room checking ID’s to see if you were “of age”. That’s when I realized that our next four years in “the Old World” would become very interesting.

The first hours in France were the worst for my mother, however. As my father cruised by a car pulled over on the shoulder of the road there where four males, obviously its occupants, some 20 meters or so “inland” busily “watering” a giant oak tree, one even slurping from what appeared to be a bottle of wine, and Mom wondered why the neighbours weren’t calling the cops. 

The one question that Dad couldn’t answer without laughing, however, was why the chef at a small restaurant had suddenly burst from the kitchen, wanting to know who was the “American” woman who had dared to challenge his kitchen skills. I didn’t understand that at first, either; all she’d done was ask why there weren’t salt and pepper shakers on the table. 

My father, however, still laughing, reached inside his European “pacifier” kit for a 20-pack of MacDonald Export Filter ($0.10 value, duty free) and in halting but adequate French, seemed to offer them up as an apology for daring to disturb the ambience of the establishment – or so I thought, anyway. When an already boxed platter of apple and cherry pastries were delivered to our table, Dad pulled another four packs from his “pacifier” kit and simply left them on the table.

I don’t recall seeing Dad pay for the meal when we left… 

I learned a lot more about life – and history – before we left Europe four years later. However, it took me almost three years before I could find a former soldier who would admit at age 18 that he had found himself fighting on the Western front against, ironically, Canadians instead of being on the Eastern front trying to repel Stalin’s legions. 

Few former soldiers would ever admit to having fought the Allies. Even fewer could explain how, despite the Allied Powers having stripped Germany of its industrialized machinery after the First World War for “compensation costs,” Germany had rebuilt itself in less than fifteen years, then become unglued by the resurgence of hate from which Hitler drew his eventual powers.

It wasn’t as though Hitler’s recruitment “techniques” to his “Final Solution” were any different from the race-baiters and hate-mongers currently plying their trade in belts of Canada or the U.S. Even in the 1960’s when George Wallace disciples were telling their southern brethren that God apparently “had the good sense” to create a continent “exclusively” for blacks, whites, yellows and browns, and therefore it was “unnatural” that society should make laws that prohibited individuals from “living the segregated lives” that “God” had allegedly intended for us.

Interestingly enough, it is Indigenous Elders who take this four-colour scheme of population dynamics that see something far more positive in coming from this creation. In a sense, they view it in much the same way and with the same purpose as did Greek scholars in creating their own elemental base, that being in the joining of “Earth, wind, fire and water” allowing life to take on more purpose and learn from every experimental creation in the joining of these elements.

So, we have to ask ourselves a few hard-to-answer questions, the first being that, when the Creator has also established this “crossroads” in directing us into the region of the “other”, why in Hell does this create the cauldron that we now see existing in the Hamas – Israeli war now playing in Gaza?

Are these conflicts the result of an Israel being so focused upon its very existence that it rejects potential peaceful solutions as a threat to that same existence, or is it that their “God” doesn’t seem to philosophically agree with his own preachings in another dialect, as though he/she/it were schizophrenic?

When we look at Israel, it is currently governed by a leader in Benjamin Netanyahu who is desperately attempting to hold onto power and change the constitutional nature of the Knesset to “allow” the government to control the actions of its Supreme Court. On the other side, we have a sickeningly vicious Hamas group of followers seeking the elimination of Israel by any means, yet who revel in knowing that Netanyahu’s senior Cabinet members are manipulating their acts of aggression to their own advantage, if for no other reason than to prolong the conflict to eternity.

There is almost a sense of awe that in examining the elemental system derived by the Greeks and spoken about with such richness of potential by our Indigenous peoples that we have neglected to mention that there is a fifth element more powerful and influential in shaping our earthly presence. This “quintessence” is the collection of knowledge gathered in a world court of opinion that has the potential to formulate a solution in the Middle East that allows all elements to co-exist without fear. Whether it may find that solution within the consultations of a United Nations forum or some other “group-think” is unknown at this time; we just know it has to be done, and a two-state existence must be its final shape and solution.

I remember how such “quiet diplomacy” worked when we were still young, and still in Europe. One evening just before Easter we arrived late at a France – Spain border crossing heading for Barcelona. In those days, these outposts were manned by former Generalissimo Franco troops not terribly given to befriending Canadians or helping them out in times of need, due to the reality that Canada sent a LOT of Prairie boys over to the Continent to fight beside Communist rebels attempting to overthrow Franco and his fascist regime. 

SIX cigarettes ($0.03 value) judiciously distributed had us on our way in less than 10 minutes of polite conversation.

Diplomacy does not have to be costly; it just has to have purpose. Hopefully, Joe Biden already knows this, or we’re all in trouble.