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    Wombat Bill
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Missing Conversations - 3. Julia and Hannah

Jared poured two glasses of white wine, ready for a mother and son chat.”

“Thanks for that Jared”

“My pleasure, I’m so glad to get to spend some time with you now. The boys certainly are a chatty pair”

“Oh there’s no holding them back when they’re in the mood”

“They certainly are today, so many questions”

“I hope they weren’t too nosy”

“That’s fine, a new brother, of course they’ll have lots of questions and they both have a need to share”

“Oh and what did they share with you?”

“Ah, now you know what’s shared between brothers, stays between brothers. That’s the man to man code.” Julia laughed, knowing exactly what Jared meant. She had faced that wall many times as a mother of sons.

“So can I ask questions as well?”

“Fire away”

“That’s exactly what I was going to ask about”

“Sorry?”

“Have you ever fired at the enemy and killed someone?”

“Yes, but I don’t like to talk about it. It’s part of the job. Not something I like doing or am proud of, but it has to be done. I was once told by a trainer, never aim a gun at a person, unless you’re prepared to fire it.”

“There’s been reports in the media recently about alleged war crimes committed by Australia’s soldiers in Afghanistan. Especially mentioned was the SAS”

“I’ve seen that too and frankly I think the media has a responsibility to report facts, not accusations and rumour.”

“So you think it’s just that, media hype?”

“I’m not saying that. There may be some rare incidents when a soldier’s motive might be questionable. If so then it’s up to Defence to investigate it, which they are doing”

“Did you ever witness any of these incidents?”

“Not that I would consider worthy of investigation. You know the enemy doesn’t always wear a uniform and in a split second you can’t read what’s in another person’s head. But despite that, overpaid, bewigged barristers will spend months posturing around court rooms, arguing for and against the accusations. Very few, if any, of them will have ever been in such a situation where you have to decide is it going to be him or me who dies today.”

Jared paused for a few moments, then continued “These speculations have seriously affected the whole service. Good men are either, suiciding, becoming burdens on their families or leaving the service because the media can’t wait for the Defence Department to conduct a proper inquiry. They make all sorts of accusations based on nothing but rumour and then one TV station showed. so called, re-enactments of these accusations, backed up with some file footage and presented it as fact.”

“I’m sorry I raised the issue, I didn’t know it would affect you so. I won’t mention it again”

“No that’s allright, I need to release it sometimes, or it builds up and threatens to explode. That’s what happens to some of the men and they end up taking it out on their wives or taking their own lives.”

“I didn’t realise the situation was so bad”

“It’s not just the accusations but the general trauma of war, that the public just don’t understand, and it’s not their fault. These things are kept from the public by career brass, not wanting to rock the boat and politicians who can’t think of anything other than winning the next election and staying in power long enough to get that lifelong pension and gold pass. Many men come back from war zones damaged by the trauma of what they see or have to do. For generations the Defence Department and governments have ignored that. Now on top of that we have these unsubstantiated accusations to deal with as well. Quite frankly, I don’t believe we should have been there. The real war criminals are Bush, Blair and Howard who took their nations to this seemingly endless war, just to find one man. They found him ten years later, dealt with him and here we are eight years later still there, why?”

“Aren’t we helping to rebuild the nation of Afghanistan into a democratic nation?”

“Julia, there are two things the USA does not understand. One is tribalism. Sure countries in the middle east don’t have the best way of running their nations, in our view. But who are we to tell them they are wrong. Their cultures hae existed longer than the USA and Australia, yet we new kids on the block think we know better. Tribalism has worked for millennia.”

“I see your point, but you said there were two things.”

“Oh the other thing they don’t understand is Democracy”

“But how can you say that when they are the most successful democracy in the modern world?”

“The thing they don’t understand about democracy is it can’t be forced upon people. Sure we think it’s great and it works for us and the US, but it’s not just a form of government. It has to be in your psyche, even in your DNA, and you can’t simply install it without the people fully understanding and accepting it. You can’t just flick a switch and replace tribalism, dictatorship, monarchy, communism or whatever other ism with democracy because you think it’s the right thing.”

“But Afghanistan now has a democratically elected government.”

“Sure they’ve been through the motions of a democratic election, but is it really functioning in the whole country. They still have the Taliban and other fringe elements of fundamentalism. They don’t exist in a vacuum, they have support from the people.”

“So you think your time serving the armed forces, in Afghanistan was wasted?”

“Not wasted, but we haven’t achieved very much.”

“So how can you not support the invasion and at the same time be proud of your service?”

“Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of my service. I did the best job I could because I chose to do what my government asked of me. That’s democracy in action. I chose to be a soldier. But that does not mean I supported our county’s involvement.”

“When do you think we will be able to leave the Afghanis to govern themselves? There are two possible answers to that. One is eighteen years ago. The other is probably never. The country’s economy exists on foreign aid and opium production while the government is propped up by the presence of foreign troops. Take away these things and the country will be worse than before we went there.”

“But, isn’t Australia’s main contribution now, the training and mentoring of the Afghan army?”

“Yes, supposed to be, but honestly from what I hear from our men over there, being in the Afghan army is just a job for them. There’s no real commitment.”

“That’s disappointing to hear all that. As an Australian I always felt proud that we were making a real contribution through our armed forces.”

“That’s exactly the message politicians want you to hear and believe. It gets them re-elected. This country has always sent our men off to fight other country’s wars. It started back with the Boer war in South Africa, then we again followed the British into the first world war at Gallipoli. And haven’t our politicians capitalised on that. They managed to turn a disastrous invasion of a country, that had never threatened us, into the Anzac legend it is today. They have continued to peddle this myth and keep the general population marching in the streets and flag waving every April so that good men join up and give their lives for what; so that we can continue to be the colonial servants of foreign nations?”

“Jared, you have certainly opened my eyes today, and given me much to think about. Maybe you could have a talk with the boys sometime. I wonder what version of history they are taught at school.”

“Happy to, but not today. I think I’ve vented enough for one day and besides today is meant to be a happy event.”

***

After talking with Julia, Jared said “I’d like the opportunity to get to know your partner better, but she hasn’t approached me today do you think she has a problem with me?”

“I doubt it, I think she’s just been giving you time to get to know our sons and also she’s been busy, working behind the scenes, in the kitchen. She’s just brought out dessert, so she’s probably finished in the kitchen. We’ll go over and I’ll leave you two to chat.”

“Those salads were amazing, Hannah. Is that your speciality?” asked Jared

“I have to admit I am better in the kitchen than on the barbecue. And besides I don’t eat meat, so I have to make the rest of my diet interesting.” Hannah replied.

“Speaking of barbecue” said Julia “I had better go and check how the boys are going with the cleaning.”

“So are you just vegetarian or one of those other variants. There seems to be so many weird diets these days, like vegan, ketogenic and pescatarian. Frankly I can’t keep up with the latest and I think most of them are just trendy fads. Not that I’m interested, feed the man meat, I say.”

“Well, you do have strong opinions on the matter”

“Are non meat eaters the only ones allowed to have opinions on diets? Why is it that, vegan’s in particular, seem to be on a crusade to covert the rest of humanity?”

“Fair enough. The only reason I don’t eat meat, is I believe vegetables only are better for my health, but I don’t force my belief on others. As you can see, our sons are really into meat, I guess that’s a boy thing. I’m quite proud of both boys and the way they think independently and make their own choices.”

“Are they allowed to make all their own choices?” Jared asked accusingly.

“What do you mean? Parents have to give children some direction”

“I was thinking more about where they have not been given direction or the opportunity to make a choice.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“The boys not only lack a father figure in their lives, they don’t know who their fathers are. That’s a choice they’ve been denied.”

“Would you have been happy growing up, knowing who your father really was?”

“That’s entirely different. You and Julia chose to be pregnant, no crime was involved.”

“Are you suggesting two mothers cannot to raise children properly?”

“Not boys, they need a male perspective on life.”

“That’s a very patriarchal view of life, borders on misogyny and is quite frankly outdated.”

“Hannah, I am not against women’s rights to equal opportunity in all areas of life, but I am equally supportive of the rights of children and a balanced upbringing. Can you really provide that for the boys?”

“Do have children?”

“No, of course not.”

“Yet you dare to stand there and tell me how to raise children. Not to mention, you have only been part of this family for five minutes and already you presume to tell me how I’ve not done a good job with my children”

“How long I have been part of this family is irrelevant, boys need male role models and I don’t think drunken personalities, drugged out rock stars or lecherous footballers suffice.”

“And who do you suggest, could be better role models, poofters like yourself?”

“That’s a low blow coming from a follower of Sappho.”

“And how come you think you know what our boys are lacking in their upbringing?”

“Have you spoken to them about manly needs?”

“I take it that’s code for sex. Yes we have.”

“I don’t doubt you’ve spoken about the birds and the bees, but what about the subtleties of manhood? One of your sons thinks being a strong man is about fucking women all night.”

“How dare you speak to my sons about such intimate matters?”

“It was not me who raised the subject. Both of them are desperate for a male perspective. You need to attend to that.”

“As may be, but an anonymous sperm donor is not going to help.”

“I realise that, so what are we going to do about it?” asked Jared.

“We?”

“I’m not offering to be a role model for them, but I’m willing to help in any way I can. And I won’t force myself into this family. If you want my help, you’ll have to ask, just like the boys”

“What do you mean, like the boys?”

“They’ve both asked for my phone number today, so they can talk when they have a problem.”

“You have ingratiated yourself into this family already”

“They asked and I didn’t want to appear distant or uninterested. I just want to be the big brother they seem to want.”

“Well, I’ll talk to Julia about it, now that you’ve raised the matter. Maybe there is something we should do.”

“Good Hannah, best you two handle it in your own way. And please don’t take what I said as criticism of you parenthood. You two have done an excellent job generally. It’s just that the boys have reached a critical stage in their development and I wouldn’t want to see them run off the rails after such hard work by you and Julia.”

“Fair enough Jared, sorry I snapped earlier, but I am a very protective mother. I now see you only have the boys’ welfare at heart”

“Can I give you a hug my....?” Jared paused, then asked “Are you my mother-in-law, or my step-mother?”

“Hannah did some mental calculations and replied “Bugger! I don’t even want to think about it” and they both laughed.

Copyright © 2021 Wombat Bill; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Very interesting chapter, @Wombat Bill.  I cannot say much about the politics here, but I have long despaired of the ruins of war.  In too many cases of war, the short and long term suffering is very regrettable.

I also think Hannah is more perceptive about Jared, at this point, than is Julia.  Jared is, to some extent, being pushy.  He doesn't know much of what the boys have been taught by their mothers, and also is not yet aware of other male influences they have been exposed to and influenced by.  He needs to tread lightly on that.

Considerable differences in school environments exist, as well.  Schools only a few kilometers or miles apart may have vastly differing cultures which also give shades of difference to boys and girls as they are growing and learning.  

Good chapter.  One mark of good writing is when a chapter seems much shorter than it really is.  This one seemed like about a thousand words instead of a bit more than twice that.  Very well done indeed.

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Great chapter @Wombat Bill Jared's speech on The Afghanistan War was very enlightening, I can't comment any more as it would get me in trouble for being political.

I like how Jared's approached Hannah about the boys needing a male role model, by the time he'd explained what he meant, her anger had subsided.

Edited by chris191070
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@chris191070and @ReaderPaulI have no such qualms about bulldozing my way in with comments on Jared's viewpoint on the war in Afghanistan. I happen to agree with him; we should never have been there, just as we should never have been in Iraq or Vietnam. Whilst I despair for the animals in nations without democratically elected governments (just as I do for animals in nations with democratically elected governments), I find it difficult to care much about the human population (except for those in nations under religious rule who are persecuted eg. women and LGBTQI residents). Jared scored many brownie points with his comments regarding war, particularly his criticism of the media, barristers and politicians; and, his sensitivity to those most affected by their participation in war. Did he perhaps hint at what troubled him regarding his participation in the SAS?

Unfortunately, he lost most of these brownie points with his unwarranted attack on Hannah. Whilst I agree with him that the boys have apparently been unfairly denied the choice of knowing their father(s), I strongly disagree with his belief that somehow their life is incomplete or less because of this and the lack of male role models. Complete bullshit Jared. And, as pointed out by @ReaderPaul, Jared has assumed, with limited knowledge of the boys lives, that they have not had positive male role models.

I also strongly resented Jared's assertion that vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians adopt such a diet because it is trendy fad. Complete bullshit again Jared. The catalyst for the adoption of such diets I daresay varies from person to person, but I believe people generally adopt such a diet for ethical or health reasons, or because they simply do not like the taste of meat. I have transitioned to a vegetarian diet over many years. I have not eaten red meat for 36 years, poultry for about 8 years and fish this year. I would very much like to be a vegan, but have not been able to find a pleasing non-dairy substitute for cheese (my one big food weakness in life). I stopped eating red meat because I did not like the taste and hated that the animals were killed for my consumption (I went on a school excursion to the local abattoir at the age of 11, it was fucking disgusting and violent). I stopped eating poultry and fish because I think killing animals is wrong. I have over the years been ridiculed for my stance by meat eaters, although this only occurs on the rarest of occasions now.

I will acknowledge that some vegans I have known have taken it to an extreme, even forcing their pets to become vegan. This is not healthy for cats for example.

@Wombat BillI love these thought-provoking, challenging and potentially divisive chapters. I find myself occasionally having a reaction I did not expect, something which I am very grateful to you for. It comforts me to know I am still capable of rational thoughts from time to time and, that I am not completely predictable. I will likely ruffle a few feathers with my comments. I tried, admittedly not very hard, to be more diplomatic like @chris191070 (a very admirable quality, which I am almost completely devoid of), but I just could not resist putting in my "two bobs worth". I am far more like Jared than I care to admit, with strong opinions on things I care about and find it difficult to compromise on eg. organised religion and animal rights. I am at least not at an expert on everything like some people (a la Germaine Greer). 

Edited by Summerabbacat
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8 hours ago, Summerabbacat said:

...Jared scored many brownie points with his comments regarding war, particularly his criticism of the media, barristers and politicians; and, his sensitivity to those most affected by their participation in war. Did he perhaps hint at what troubled him regarding his participation in the SAS?

Unfortunately, he lost most of these brownie points with his unwarranted attack on Hannah.  Whilst I agree with him that the boys have apparently been unfairly denied the choice of knowing their father(s), I strongly disagree with his belief that somehow their life is incomplete or less because of this and the lack of male role models.  Complete bullshit Jared.  And, as pointed out by @ReaderPaul, Jared has assumed, with limited knowledge of the boys lives, that they have not had positive male role models.

I also strongly resented Jared's assertion that vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians adopt such a diet because it is trendy fad. Complete bullshit again Jared. The catalyst for the adoption of such diets I daresay varies from person to person, but I believe people generally adopt such a diet for ethical or health reasons, or because they simply do not like the taste of meat. I have transitioned to a vegetarian diet over many years. I have not eaten red meat for 36 years, poultry for about 8 years and fish this year. I would very much like to be a vegan, but have not been able to find a pleasing non-dairy substitute for cheese (my one big food weakness in life). I stopped eating red meat because I did not like the taste and hated that the animals were killed for my consumption (I went on a school excursion to the local abattoir at the age of 11, it was fucking disgusting and violent). I stopped eating poultry and fish because I think killing animals is wrong. I have over the years been ridiculed for my stance by meat eaters, although this only occurs on the rarest of occasions now.

I will acknowledge that some vegans I have known have taken it to an extreme, even forcing their pets to become vegan. This is not healthy for cats for example.

@Wombat BillI love these thought-provoking, challenging and potentially divisive chapters. I find myself occasionally having a reaction I did not expect, something which I am very grateful to you for. It comforts me to know I am still capable of rational thoughts from time to time and, that I am not completely predictable. I will likely ruffle a few feathers with my comments.  I tried, admittedly not very hard, to be more diplomatic like @chris191070 (a very admirable quality, which I am almost completely devoid of), but I just could not resist putting in my "two bobs worth".  I am far more like Jared than I care to admit, with strong opinions on things I care about and find it difficult to compromise on eg. organised religion and animal rights. I am at least not at an expert on everything like some people (a la Germaine Greer). 

I agree on the horrors of war.  But I don't want to get banned from here because of politics.  

Some vegans and some meat eaters go to extremes  The majority of the vegans or near-vegans I know have chosen that for ethical reasons.  Some have chosen it because of an allergy to beef or pork or poultry.

Jared is setting himself up for potential problems, as he has presented differing sides of himself to Alex, James, Julia, and Hannah.  At this point, I think that Hannah is the closest to seeing through him.  Jared is a very complicated person, seemingly able to compartmentalize himself.  He is much like Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and endings.  Interestingly, one of the functions of the Roman god Janus included giving advice, according to some sources.  

@Wombat Bill, I look forward to seeing comments from my fellow CWB groupies as this story progresses.

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