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123 MAY 2009
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TRUTHS AND HALF TRUTHS

Bring in the blue helmets for family fights

Nils Ling

I was watching a boxing match on TV the other night. It got pretty dirty “lots of clinches and rabbit punches and holding. The ref had to keep moving in between these two behemoths as they pummelled one another around the ring. One of the announcers started going on and on about “... how difficult the life of a ring official is”.

Yeah, right. Cry me a river. I know what a real fight is. I have two daughters.

You want all-out war? Come to my house when one of my daughters is looking for her new sweater and finds out her sister lent it to a friend.

Or maybe you’re looking for some simple madness and mayhem? Drop around when one of them learns she got a call last night and her sister “sort of forgot” to tell her.

Perhaps vicious, no-holds-barred street-fighting is more to your taste. Be here when I tell one kid to wake up her sister ... and forget to add the words “... and do it nicely”.

Time was, they got along. They’re three years apart, and for years the older one would look after her baby sister, play with her, do stuff for her. Now she just wishes her mom and dad had taken them camping in the outback way back when and left her sister for dingo bait.

Of course, it’s all our fault. Ask either one. It’s always the same. Her sister gets away with everything. Why don’t we ever yell at her sister? We always take her side. I mean, it’s perfectly clear who’s in the wrong and who’s in the right ... right?

Wrong.

It’s never clear. Solomon was the wisest guy in the Bible. If he had to deal with the convoluted arguments I’ve had to referee on a daily basis, he’d just chop both kids in half and be done with it. Job would throw up his hands and cry “Enough, already!” Cain would say “There “you see? And they wonder why I did it.”

Half the times, the argument isn’t about anything. One looks cross-eyed at the other and war breaks out. I wonder if that’s what’s happening in some of these trouble spots around the world. Our soldiers are out there in their baby blue helmets, trying to sort out what seems to be a complex dispute, and once they get past the language barrier they learn it all started when someone from one side passed someone from the other at the kitchen table and, just under his breath, muttered something that rhymes with “stitch”.

I’ve given up even trying to solve the disputes now. I just wear my helmet and try to separate the combatants until something good comes on TV. Maybe that’s what we should do in places like Kosovo. Ship over a whole whack of TVs ... all of them tuned to “The Simpsons”. Hey, works in my house. For about, oh, a half hour.

In fact, even better: we could sort out most of the world's troubles just by shipping a bunch of parents to the hot spots. My wife could go to Cyprus. By noon, the Turks and the Greeks would be up in their rooms and wouldn’t be allowed to come out till their rooms were clean and they promised to make nice.

If we do that, of course, it would only be fair for the UN to then send some peacekeepers around to my house. Shouldn’t take too many. A battalion or two.

Unless that sweater my daughter lent to her friend comes back with stains on it. If that happens, I think you just stand back and let God sort it out.

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