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Preppies' hope cuts through the terror of terrorism

  • 20 January 2016

Towards the end of last year, a new song began playing each morning on the primary school's PA system. All year songs had been belted out as a way to let straggler parents and kids know the bell to start the day was soon to beep.

To my ear, the new song's chorus was All we need is hope ... I couldn't make out the rest. For two reasons: I was hurrying along with my prep son to make sure he wasn't late, and the lyric put a lump in my throat that I swallowed quickly.

Last year, I was my son's main school-day carer. It was a year of which the second half was dominated by acts of terrorism around the world.

For the first time I properly registered the fact that there were people on the planet who, given the opportunity, would kill the preppie and me because we didn't want the kind of world they wanted. To my mind, that was a war footing.

It wasn't a pleasant reality with which to engage. I started to feel a presence looming over us as I helped the preppie with his homework or reading his story at night. An unnamed threat that would as willingly expunge the preppie from the earth as an army commander.

The whole time I was telling myself that I shouldn't think like this. That I was letting the terrorists win. Well, I'm sorry, but they did have a little victory over me, for a few months.

But it didn't last.

At the height of allowing this looming presence to darken my time with the preppie, the aforementioned hurry-up song came on the PA on our way into school. And all I saw around me was hope.

The schoolyard was filled with chattering preppies, running to their classrooms, eyes shining and faces open. They were yet to absorb the scale of tragedy life on earth could hold. And they had, I trusted, a limited awareness that some people in the world saw even their little existences as a threat.

As I watched those preppies swarm the schoolyard, full of the hope that the song embodied, I was overwhelmed. Their innocence was a force.

Instead of swallowing the lump in my throat, I let it do what it wanted. And, surprisingly, it didn't result in a rush of tears. I felt myself instead made fragile, as fragile and innocent for a moment as all those little kids