Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reinhard Mey - Nein, meine Soehne geb' ich nicht

If I remember correctly, when I first heard this song, by German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey, I still believed that pacifism was a viable if not realistic option. About twenty years later, now that I live here in Israel and have two sons myself, the song ( No, I won't give my sons ) leaves me with mixed feelings. Not because of its message - which I identify completely with: the author addresses his political leaders and tells them, among other basic truths, that it is his damned duty as a father to protect his children from those leaders - or because I suddenly have become a militarist. But because I understand that this country, with all its faults and injustices, will need a good and loyal army to defend itself. At least for many more decades to come, I am afraid. We cannot afford to take our sons and run away with them, rather than let them enlist and become soldiers. When our first son was born almost seven years ago, for a short moment I wished what so many parents in Israel wished before and after me: that when he will be eightteen years old Israel will not need an army anymore. Four years later, when his brother was born, two months after the Second Lebanon War, I was unable to cherish that illusion even for one moment. This song remains a beautiful one, its message is still relevant and convincing. I will do my best to pass the values that Mey talks about in this song on to our children. I am convinced that some of those values will not only make them better human beings, but also better - and more humane - soldiers.


Alexander said...

I think u missunderstood the intensions of the song. The song seems not to be strictly about pacifism.

I agree he doesn't want to sacrifice his sons in any war, but especially not in wars waged by powerhungry leaders. There is a difference between having to defend your country / freedom and being send to i.e Irak because the US wants to protect it's oil interests.

Like u I am a father of 2 sons. Fortunately here in Holland we don't have the military duty anymore. I realise that I am very lucky to be living here and not in Israel (nor Palestina).

I hope for Isreal and Palestina to reach peace soon, so nobody has to loose it sons or daughters in war.

I wish u and your family a happy live. If I understand well there is still 11 years to go before you oldest has to enlist, lets hope that things have changed in that time.

Bert said...

I believe that both you and I got the song's message, and that we both agree on the fact that most if not all wars are unnecessary. And I hope with you that in another eleven years things will have changed for the better, for both Israelis and Palestinians. Unfortunately, I am not very optimistic, though.