Medea was wrong

It got us worried but Spring is finally here, wiping away the dullness that the cold winter brought with it.

I had taken a long walk within Kings Park and came to the Botanic Garden, perched high on the Mt. Eliza scarp. As I walked through the garden, I could see the flowers blossom, arrayed in their radiant colours and the bees, those hard workers, busy pollinating them. One flower at a time. The scent from the flowers are amazing and surprisingly therapeutic. Nature, majestic in its simplicity filled my eyes with all the primary colours and more.

I thought of the differences in the forms, shapes and colours of the different plants curated in the garden, the importance of each plant and the fact that each thrives and prospers within the same space inhabited by others. Oh boy, how nature abounds in diversity! As I walked, I came across people of different creed, nationalities, sizes and shapes. The garden was bustling with activities, all of us present people were engaged in things that excite of senses. Kings Park is always welcoming, it has been this way for generations and will likely be till eternity.

I exited the garden and within a matter of steps turned into the Kokodas Way, a tree lined short walk. Here, the radiance of the garden gave way to sobriety. I paused for a sober reflection as many before me might have done and many after me would do too. There, at the foot of each tree is a black plaque wrought of molten metal stating a name, the place of death and year. These are memorials to the thousands of Australians lost in combat through the ages.

What caught my attention was the plaque to a soldier said to have mistakenly been killed. I thought of his last seconds on earth, shocked probably but definitely angry. How could this have been? Being hit by an enemy’s bullet is one thing, being felled by the bullets of your “mates” is another! The grief and agony of the shooter and his mates would definitely have followed. It must have been brutal, one that might have taken years of therapy and counseling to heal, if it ever healed at all. For good reason, I suppose. The name of the shooter was kept secret by the military. No parent would like to know the person whose error resulted in the death of their own child.

I also thought of something else, wars. The previous night, I finished reading Medea, an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides. The words said by Medea readily came to my mind. Standing there in Athens, having been betrayed by the love of her life, to whom she had given all, even betrayed her father to steal the golden fleece, she said:

“I’d three times go to war
Than suffer childbirth once”

I wondered if she, being afforded the opportunity to stand here at the Kokodas Way, would have uttered these lines? All around me is silent but in this silence, the plaques are shouting. Loudly, to all to hear that there are heavy prices to pay in wars. The agony of mothers being delivered the bad news of the death of their kids? Of wives and kids being told of the death of their husbands, their fathers. Birth pangs are in no way comparable to these, no not at all. The pains of childbirth will come and go but that of wars linger on for a lifetime.

If Medea truly knew what war entails, she would be horrified by her statement. Shouldn’t we be as well? As the drums of war gets beaten around us, may we be solemn for a moment and visit a war memorial? I guess if we all do this, many will sooner come to the table to jaw-jaw rather than war-war.