I was downtown with my kids today. We had to stop at the bikeshop to get a new lamp for my daughter's bike. Afterwards we had some ice cream. On a central square in town there was an information point of the German army, the Bundeswehr. It was a large information truck with a smaller army ambulance as an eye catcher next to it. For sure we took a look on our way to the ice cream shop.
On our way back a demonstration by a group of about 60 to 80 pacifists had just started. It was a bit like a happening. The demonstrators were lying down on the ground as if dead and after lying there for about 5 to 10 minutes they were getting up again singing "life is better than death" and the like. And of course a lot fo police were around to ensure that everything goes smoothly and without conflict.
My kids were impressed by that. And for me it was a good opportunity to explain to them a basic element of democracy: the right to demonstrate. And it was pretty clear that I had sympathy with both sides: the army guys whose mission in Germany is anyway to prevent war and not to make war; and the pacifists who believe that war is not an instrument for politics and that it was better not to take part in any military undertaking and therefore not to join the army for a career.
I am sure this event left a lot of food for thought in my kids' minds. And in mine, as well: Education on democracy is elementary and we need to make it an integral part of our everyday education and positions which we provide our kids with. It is as essential as saying thanks and sorry - both are getting too often forgotten, as well.