School was out for summer
Editorial: A time to cherish
It is hard to focus on the small but important things in life at the moment with the threat of war with Iraq hanging over us.
But, perhaps it is at times like this that we most need to do so. And one of these small but important things is that the nation's schoolchildren will soon be putting on their stiff new lace-ups, saying goodbye to long sleep-ins and reacquainting themselves more seriously with soap and water as they troop back to school.
But, as our feature on pages 4 and 5 illustrates, it is not the kids but the parents who fret most at this time, especially if their child is starting kindergarten or high school.
These milestones remind us that childhood, and life itself, is all too fleeting and should be cherished. This is the basis of the Church's emphasis on respect for life and also a theme Pope John Paul II emphasises continually.
Those with boys close to finishing high school are probably even more acutely aware of the fragility of youth as they pray that a war with Iraq will not lead to the death of young Australians. It is hard to exchange a school uniform for a military one and go to war, but it has happened before and could happen again.
But, rather than depress us, such fears should lead us to cherish our families and children even more.
They should lead us to take the time to talk to our five-year-old about the excitement - and perhaps worry - of those first days at school, to treasure those first school paintings, to relax over dinner with the children rather than rush around doing housework and to cut back on personal sport in favour of playing games with the kids instead.
Taking time out to enjoy one's children gets even harder once they go to high school. Many Catholic high schools are excellent, but they can be expensive and lead to parents working more to meet higher bills. One way to get more family time is to get some domestic help. Another is to keep the budget (and hence work) under control by going for cheap family fun - picnics at the park; family videos at home (although finding these can be a challenge), or maybe just playing cards or Scrabble together.
Last but not least, we should cherish other people's children, too - including Iraq's. Say some prayers for them, perhaps, send a few dollars to Caritas, which has a mission there; or maybe write to those people in high places whom we fear do not always cherish life enough and tell them that we do, and that they should be fighting harder with words and diplomacy before going for the easy killing option.