Doctor Who is an alien. He has known countless lives, he is oblivious to conventional human society with all its ways of distancing self from other and he passionately loves us. He continually rushes in to do what is right. He is full of doubt and pain but he nevers tires. He is the embodiment of our disolocated, unstuck in time, brave and compassionate best. He is a good fictional role model.
I watched a documentary on child soldiers last night. Our most lovely hero, Romeo Dallaire who “shook hands with the devil” has gone back to Africa to address the issue of child soldiers. He is a unique individual because he will sit close enough to reach out and hold a hand of a father who has lost his children to a militia, who has lost everything infact. Dallaire finds the thread in his own life that he can share, “I too am a father”. He makes a connection. He recognises the evil of using children as weapons and tells us, even though we don’t want to know. He knows these children. They have been abused and manipulated by thugs who want to rule with terror. Romeo Dallaire, a soldier, believes that a better world is within our grasp now. He really does. He is not advocating bigger guns but the opposite, bringing everything down to the very personal and responding appropriately, like Doctor Who, except he is real, like us.
I have been trying to write a book about the loss of innocence called “The Children’s War” for ten years (yes, I am a bit slow). I ask myself, why is science fiction the most appealing setting for me? Why so often is this the genre for us to work out so many of our own issues?
I think we make up stories about people who are who we would like to be and we feel more comfortable if what they have to deal with is not so close to home. We call them Saints or Heroes or Aliens and yet the essential truth of the best of our created characters is that they don’t require anything special, not a Tardis or a War or a God because it is their choice to do the right thing that defines them.
Remembrance day is not about making up stories about the glories of war but about recognizing the very difficult and necessary actions carried out by those who saw something needed to be done against criminals and thugs who would try to rule. It was for peace that they fought and died. That is what makes them heroes.