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Life After WWII part IV!
By Emile M Tubiana   

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Excerpt from the author's book "Childhood Regained"


Life After WWII  part IV
After the war we rediscovered our zest for life and appreciated once more our cherished freedom. Before the war we were similar to herds of cattle, indifferent to life. It was only with the cessation of the fighting that we were able to appreciate the precious beauty of life. Actually it was because of the war that we acquired a lust for life-- for all the needs that life requires us to fill in terms of food, work and sleep--and we appreciated the simple evenings spent on our peaceful threshold. We talked and told stories, while lovers were hiding in dark corners, protected by the complicity of the night. But in this new life we felt some emptiness, created by the loss of relatives or friends. We tried to go on as if nothing had happened, but it was very hard not to remember those we loved. They were part of the familiar scene of our town and we could not forget their faces, their voices, their personalities and their participation in the life of the community. Despite our joy in having survived the atrocities of the war, we were reminded of them each time we stumbled over the ruins still congesting our streets.          How could we forget them when we came across their widows and children? We could also have done without those new military cemeteries, the American, the British, the German, and the Italian. We might excuse and forgive, but could we really forget?
            Everything is changed, and this change is the prelude to a new era that has already transformed our universe and will therefore present us with distressing events, an era of mistrust. The powerful nations will go the way of force, using as their motto "Si vis pacem, para bellum." They will commit themselves to technology and science, to the detriment of such values as faith and love. We will see the beginning of an age of doubt which may never end. Nations will see their people uprooted and living in exile, away from their loved ones, and suffering from nostalgia.
            Is it really necessary to invite still more wars and atrocities in order to appease minds overheated with their ideals -- democracy, socialism, religion or communism? Can an ideal be based on anarchy, terrorism, destruction or disorder? Must we go to these extremes, ending up with innocent victims on our conscience? A bomb may be more dramatic than a human voice, but the relentless human voice will not surrender and will defend its cause.
            Examine what happened to past civilizations, to the cultural treasures of humanity; they were all destroyed by force. Are there no other ways to solve our problems? The heads of government maintain that they represent public opinion. Is this a hoax used to deny their responsibility? Public opinion has not really been expressed. Even the press cannot be relied upon, inasmuch as journalists are not totally unbiased in reporting material. There will always be leaders guiding the nations through various means.
            Perhaps it would serve us better to ask the opinions of children. After all, they are pure and untainted, unaware of the meaning of intrigue and lies. Their minds are healthy and free of unnecessary clutter, and they certainly are well qualified to give us honest answers to all the questions we could ask them.
            Aren't there enough victims through natural disasters -- earthquakes, floods, tornados, accidents, hunger, epidemics? Do we have to go to war to see our wealth disappear? Man is a slave to his weakness. He does not recognize when an evil is consuming him and, instead of getting rid of it, he allows himself to be destroyed. 
            Men are driven to slaughterhouses in the name of freedom and independence. Do they even understand the kind of freedom for which they are ready to give up their lives? What is the real meaning of that word "freedom"? What freedom do we see in the chains of our pride and hostility-- the freedom to be hungry and feel miserable? Why talk about freedom from our chains? Men are prisoners of their anatomy and deficiencies, of their traditions, of the education they have received and of the society in which they live.
            It is senseless to die for freedom; actually, we must live for it. Let us rejoice in freedom, but more so in a freedom of the mind. This is a positive strength that helps us in our professional, social and personal environments. And it is thanks to this strength that we achieve freedom--and attain love. It is far easier to love one's neighbor than to fight against him.
            We speak freely of the feeling we call love but do we understand it? Love is different from sex and beautiful women. It is a beauty that dwells within each of us, and it is our responsibility to discover it. Beautiful things need to be pursued if we wish to discover them. we will get in touch with the pleasant softness of any item In the case of flowers we can reach their colorful loveliness only by pulling up the weeds that obscure them from our view. Numerous treasures are buried in the earth, and we need to dig them up before we can enjoy them.
            We know that we are surrounded by all kinds of forces. They too are waiting for us to uncover them so that we can then use them. There are also forces hidden inside us. It is through love and work that we can get in touch with them. Such forces are not the privilege of a social class, or of a nation. A woodcutter, a shoemaker or a homemaker may very well be endowed with more of these forces than some world famous personality. More than one Einstein or Pasteur are probably hidden somewhere among us! People are often unaware of their potential, and they need an outside event or effort to release it.
            Could we really take seriously a new Leonardo da Vinci or a new Jesus? People would prefer to select a new car model if given a choice between a new Madame Curie and new automobile model.
            Each of us carries from birth various potentials ranging from kindness and love to disease, and from great intelligence to sheer stupidity. It is in our power to actualize some of those potentials. This realization depends upon our lifestyle and our daily actions. The laws of nature that we keep discovering are not eternal. They become valuable only to the extent that our knowledge increases. As a consequence, these laws can be extremely variable. Each evil may well have its remedy, but one must understand it well in order to combat it. The same principle holds true for nature, which encompasses divergent forces. Once they are understood, they can be used appropriately. Contrary to popular belief, the education we have received is far from adequate, because we are manipulating the wrong tools with it. It is not always the "good" which brings us pleasure, or the "evil" which saddens us. Feelings provoked by grief or melancholy, joy or pleasure, help us discover the true meaning of "good" and "evil".
            It is difficult to decide wisely, to recognize good feelings or real friends. Only the trial and error testing we undergo justifies our choices. It is as a result of such testing that we can make our best decisions.
            All we need is a little something--a wind, a storm, a tune, a landscape, a certain ambiance, a feeling of danger, or meeting a particular person -- in order for us to find the right path. We can then make our own choice. The absence of any sense of remorse as well as our clear conscience confirms to us that we made the right decision.
            Justice is not the privilege of rabbis, priests, or judges. Physicists, biologists or high-ranking officials in universities do not hold the secrets of the sciences. Some may be competent, and others may not. But society knows how to choose according to the rules we have just described. Even as air and wind, the "true" and the "false", or "truth" and "falsehood", do not have any limits. Let us not give away our freedom of choice and thus abdicate our destiny. If need be, let us neutralize our selfishness and resist our pride. Our duty towards ourselves dictates that we admit to our shortcomings, weaknesses and errors. It is never too late to change direction, or to review our decisions and modify them. Would it be wise to cross the desert with a sick camel? There is too much at stake. This holds true also when we realize that our choices and decisions do not rest on a solid foundation.
            Any work which has been started must be finished under the best conditions. A piece of land must be plowed before one can sow. Then one must cater to it and wait faithfully for its fruit. In the same fashion, a mother-to-be is indirectly taking care of her baby by taking good care of herself. She will then be able to wait full of confidence, knowing that everything will be all right. Each event has its time, and there is a special time for everything. There are, of course, unpredictable and unforeseeable events. That is why one must be careful, attentive and perspicacious.  
            A good watchman does not allow himself to sleep; he is always on the alert. We have an obligation to fulfill our responsibilities, however important they may seem. No matter how easy or how difficult our work may be, it involves a high degree of accountability, dictated by our conscience. Money assumes a secondary role; our capability will become clearly apparent through our fruitful work.

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