I am a war child, in a manner of speaking. When I came to this world, there was a world war inexorably grinding down to its bitter end. Short of everything that made life easier, the wartime austerity left its scars on me as with all others of my generation. At home a meal was not just a meal without being told we ought to be thankful whatever was ladled out to us. ‘Consider the millions who are orphans elsewhere and you ought to be thankful..’ while the spinach and rice were served, leftovers warmed for the occasion. The parents prided on their duty and knowledge they did it with their sweat of blood. It was thus our meal-time, it was tantamount to a moral issue every time. A clean plate at the end equated with a clean conscience.
Now that I am on my own (I for one eat indifferently) while my siblings and I have learned to put our ghosts behind us. We have no excuses and we dribble a little with our conscience when we splurge on food we have brought from far corners of the earth. Did we not filch with our colossal capital reserves from those who are economically less endowed? We call it free enterprise that they must deliver at our terms. Africa, Asia and Far East we know as country of origin when we survey the overstocked shelves in our supermarkets. Fishes from their rivers feed us and their grains we import wholesale, in cereals, crispies cookies and what not. We supply the cunning to make their produce palatable, We bar code their sweat to make it sell. Moral issues are dismissed with the click of cash register. When we cart our weekly grocery we are only conscious of the parking place and not of some rain forests cleared for biofuel. We of our generation have distanced from the burden of our parent who made both ends with hard cash while we do it on credit. Our families were raised on future promises by living beyond our means. Plastic credit cards opened doors at High Street shops and our children knew branded items gave their childhood pleasures a shine. A pair of Reebok shoes made them forget the boredom of walking to the school bus. Our consumerism dulled our conscience from harsh realities of global trade and commerce unduly. Children learned to appease theirs.
Moral issue of now is made more abstract, since our children have no time to listen to us anyway. They are all into the sweet life of virtual reality, of their consumables and privacy of their own den. We are made to feel more as intruders at home since our economic clout is becoming fainter and less constructive to be providers for all. Of course children have their own means of which we are least in the know. We have our own worries: issues of pension funds to sort out than of children whose worlds are on fast tracks. Our world wherein we lashed ourselves to work ethics and burnt incense before family gods for prosperity is gone; those corporate heads whose appeasement was chief concern also have gone; and so are pension funds.
Coming to think of it we have only ourselves to blame.