As he ran towards the shot up wall of the small disused school in front of him, he thought for a second of his boys, Kai – the eldest, would have been at school in Melbourne right now, it seemed another planet away.
He stopped and gazed through his sights for the enemy and not for the first time, wondered. He wondered why? How? How had it come to this and why do we still fight like this? It felt surreal in that moment, for just then he saw the ‘enemy’ climbing a tree behind a building looking for ‘him’. Or anyone like him. He had no helmet, no glasses, his gun was more of a rifle, but what struck Kobi more than anything was that he was a child. He could be no more than Kai’s age but most likely was younger. He was skinny and malnourished and wearing a scarf over his head, but Kobi could still see his eyes and they immediately haunted him, scarred him. There was so much hate and so much soulless fear.
He heard a flurry of bullets from next to him and the child soldier exploded, literally exploded as he fell from the tree. Kobi turned to Joe his mate next to him who had fired the shots and he was smiling, it was their task, their orders, but as Kobi looked back through his sights, he could see the boy on the ground, his eyes still open, glazed and empty betraying his hate, staring at him.
Kobi watched for a long time through the sights. He watched as no one came. As no one seemed to even know. He stood up and looked all around and everything was deathly silent, or at least that was how it seemed. Because a moment later he realised that there was actually a cacophony going on, the tank was still revving, soldiers around him were loading up rocket launchers, barking orders and the radio in his ear, was repeating his name.
“You all right?”
“Yup” he whispered.
“I have been calling you for a while!”
“Return to TM39 ”
Kobi stood up slowly in a trance, walked and then ran back to the tank, to his captain.
“Sir!” he yelled, saluting, reverting to his training.
“Stevens, I have some news from Oz,” he paused. “Your boy is sick, very sick. I have your wife on the phone.”
Kobi took the handset.
“Sweet? What’s happening?”
“Kobe” his wife gasped. “I love you. There is some bad news, I am afraid. Kai’s got some kind of kidney disease that might kill him.”
“What? How did that happen so fast?”
“Well those tests I told you about, they all came back negative, he needs a kidney now, there seems no other way around it”
Kobi looked into the distance, looked straight back at those eyes, and suddenly there was not another thing in the world that mattered. “All right I am coming home. I will be home as fast as I can even if I have to go AWOL.”
“Kobe, I am scared. He looks so weak and they cannot find a match.”
“Sweetie can he have mine?”
“I don’t think so, it needs to be juvenile.”
“I am coming home. I’ll talk to you as soon as I can get organised. I love you, darling. Darling, I love you!”
He walked back to the captain and handed the phone to him. Nothing seemed real, suddenly nothing, absolutely nothing seemed important. He cursed himself for being there so many miles away. It had made sense before. He was going to work over here for a few years and that way he would be able to buy a house and the things the boys and Stace, his wife, needed, deserved. Now it seemed like the craziest decision of his life. He had been away for so many years and probably at least another two, just for some things.
He liked the travel, the adventure, the adrenalin, and he told himself that he believed in the war but now all he could see was those eyes and they were closer to him, more embedded in his heart than his own son’s. And he realised suddenly the thought that had been plaguing him since he arrived was true, that nothing was going to be resolved by fighting.
No matter how much force, how big the guns, nothing would come from this war. The hate would simmer and resurface, and the murders, the killers would carry in their conscience every single soul that they had harmed, injured for generations – carrying the scars of a psychotic serial killer.
He realised completely in that moment that violence did not win wars at home or on the street or even at the pub and there was no way it was going to win here in the deserts of some shattered country. He knew in every atom of his being suddenly, that violence was about the worst force there was on the planet and he decided in that moment, that he would take no further part, no matter the cost.
He couldn’t help it, but he kept looking back to the dead child soldier and seeing his son, Kai. Imagining him in pain, imagining him dying and the tears welled and ran down his face. He felt such love for the boy, he felt for his son and all he wanted now was to get home.
A few days later, getting off the plane and then out the door to the people waiting at Melbourne Airport was about the best feeling he had ever had. There was Stace and the kids, Kai and Olly. He hugged them and cried and cried like no one could see and it didn’t matter, Kobi was home.
hugged Stacey for the longest time and breathed. It was the
first time since he left that he had breathed that deeply, really
breathed. He hugged 7 year old Olly who loved his Dad so much
but had barely seen him and then he grabbed Kai and the strangest
He was crying uncontrollably and he wasn’t sure at first it wasn’t his tears, but as soon as he hugged him, he could see the child soldier. His heart seemed to be physically expanding within his chest because he could feel the grief of the child soldier’s mother, his father and brothers had been killed already, and so he was the mother’s last child, last family.
As he hugged Kai he felt them all, he felt next the three people he had killed, two soldiers and a merchant he had thought was carrying a bomb. And again, he felt their stories, of fathers with children, children with sisters and brothers lost and afraid and the scars of how much they hated those that had killed their kin. He felt them all as his heart grew and grew within him.
He whispered gently over and over, "I love you Kai, it's gonna be all right, I love you Kai"
Then he saw the hundreds of dead people that had been killed by bombs or fire from his battalion, they flashed before him and again he felt the love that had been the fathers and brothers and mothers and sisters and children and children and children. His heart was absolutely aching as it stretched out to encompass all these souls. He looked into Kai’s eyes as Stace and Olly hugged him too and he realised that this was real love.
Real authentic love. That it was impossible to love one person truly, without loving every person. For that matter, every tree, every flower, every animal. That real love had no limits, it had no point at which it stopped, that real authentic love connected one to the whole.
Then he felt his army mates, he felt their stories, their loved ones, his family, his brother and sisters, his mum and dad who’d recently passed while has was away fighting. His heart seemed to be going through labour pains as if he was struggling to be born.
He stopped and thought again. ‘Love has no endings. If it is authentic, it must keep expanding, it must be unconditional, it must be for all. I cannot truly love one thing, yet hate another. That is not love, that is a child’s football game.’
Authentic love can have no limits. It is impossible to really love and at the same time hate.
“Dad this is Zakir,” said Kai pointing from within his father’s arms to another boy who had travelled with them to the airport with his parents who were obviously Pakistani dressed in full Muslim garb.
“O I am sorry Maha,” said Stacey, “Kobi, this is Maha and Manjib, and their son Zakir.”
Kobi took the hand of the father Manjib and folded his hands and bowed as a pranam to Maha, he then reached across to Zakir and shook his hand. These were the exact people he had been killing overseas.
“Pleased to meet you. I am REALLY pleased to meet you” he repeated, feeling more and more abhorrence for the war and what he had done and sure as a summer breeze that where he was now, was exactly the place he wanted to be.
“They are our neighbours and Zakir is Kai’s best friend,” said Stacey.
“Dad, Zakir says he will give me a kidney,” said Kai, suddenly looking extremely weak and sick.
And as Kobi looked at Zakir and Kai – again he was haunted by the face of the child soldier only now his face was smiling, his eyes sparkling, as if everything had happened exactly as it had to. Perhaps all this he realised, his whole life had been up until that point, to come to this moment, to come to this realisation that there was nothing better or higher than real love and that to be authentic it had to be for all souls, for all life, for all.
There was actually no Aussie, no Pakistani, no American, no Englishman, no Christian, no Muslim, no democrat, no socialist. ‘We are all a part of each other,’ he realised, ‘these are just labels of the parts of us that have no importance. No importance at all.’
“He’s a match,” whispered Stacey whilst Manjib and Maha beamed approvingly.
As Kobi stood there holding Kai, Stacey and Olly, tears rolled down his face more and more uncontrollably and as Kai reached out for Zakir, Kobi reached out to Manjib and Maha.
There had been no perfect moments in Kobi’s life up to that point, no time he had really known for sure he was doing exactly what he should. But this was unmistakeably one.
He felt finally, home, not because he was in Melbourne, but because he had found his way to the place he had been searching for. He cried and cried. Within him he felt the child soldier now with gratitude and love and relief, overwhelming relief.
“I love you Daddy, I really, really love you,” said Kai.
“You know Kai,” Kobi sobbed, “I know what you mean. I love you too, my beautiful boy.”
Take a few deep breaths and reflect for a moment on how you love. What do you feel in your body when you love? How does your mind feel? Your heart? What would it take to increase the way you love? Can you double the love you are feeling right now?
For a moment reflect on a favourite place of yours. Perhaps a mountain or a beach or a river you really, really love.
Take a moment to close your eyes and remember that place. Allow yourself to feel love for it and then take a moment to feel how the love feels.
How does it feel in your body? In your head? In your heart? Then increase the feeling. Increase the love.
find another place perhaps even in another country,
you don’t have to have even been there. Just
Let the vision of the place evoke your hearts deeper and deeper love.
Then another place and go through the same process. Then another. Feel all these places as though they are a part of you, a part of your soul, as though there are shafts of light joining you to them.
See more and more places that you love and see these shafts of light stretching to all corners of the earth.
Eventually try and see yourself with streaks of light, shafts of love to hundreds of different places.
Move to your house or the place you live and spend some time appreciating it, loving it. Releasing all the things you have to do in your house and just send your love to it, for sheltering you and protecting you and in all the ways you can offer appreciation and love.
Then please reflect on the animals you love. It might be a dolphin or a whale or a chimp or a bird. Take a moment to feel how you love them. Again what does your body feel like? Is it different to a place? How does your head or your heart feel?
Perhaps you have pets, how does your love for them feel? Is it more conditional? Can you feel how they love you?
How does love for inanimate objects like your home or your car feel? Where do you feel it?
What about your partner? Or your kids? Or your parents or brothers and sisters?
As you explore the way you love - over and over again, try and double the way you love, and double it and double it again.