I'm already feeling pretty fortunate as I sip a pastis and watch my six-year-old son play on a heat-wave-fried beach in the south of France.
But I can't stop thinking of what's happening as another absurd war flames up and families like mine are being torn apart literally just across the Mediterranean.
My 19-year-old son back in Toronto wrestles with career choices, while aging commanders devoid of imagination send young men my son's age to die or burn babies.
And as I watch my youngest son speak French to a new European playmate, I can't revel in the Canadian liberalism that has made his immersion education in our other official language an easy option. Instead, I'm pained at the realization that now more than ever my country is participating in a worldwide disease that legitimates the choice of war.
My kid makes sand castles while Israeli children in Nazareth try to sleep in bomb shelters and wonder if their big brother will ever come home. And desperate parents in Tyre, Lebanon, try to shield their children from the bloodshed in a war that seems to be everywhere.
Canada once participated in a nascent global culture of peace. Our soldiers strapped on weapons and blue helmets to separate combatants, not hunt down "enemies." Now they wage a surrogate war for America to track and kill Muslims in Afghanistan, freeing U.S. young people to kill and be killed in a hopeless war in Iraq.
Politicians and journalists sell stories of our "boys" making sacrifices to make the world safer, but the planet is ever more man-made lethal.
On the plane back home, I choke through Globe and Mail writer Christie Blatchford's war porn. The battlefield groupie tells "embedded" swashbuckling tales of Canadian kids dying or dealing death in the same country where one of the world's biggest powers, the USSR, floundered and faded away decades ago.
She reports "enemy" losses almost giddily, as if anyone's violent death is ever good news. And she takes aim at Edwin Starr's classic anti-war track, War (What Is It Good For?), claiming it's misguided and that somehow there is a case to be made for, yup, the edifying nature of war, even as Canadians are zipped into black bags on the tarmac just steps from her laptop.
But armed conflict is the refuge of the inept. As a way of settling accounts it's obsolete and way beneath the collective wisdom of the world's mediators, though it's favoured by those seeking easy answers, like tax cut fetishists who fall back on failed solutions because they're simple.
The Mideast has been in varying states of conflict since before Israel was created, when Zionist "terrorists" took on their British colonial rulers. Decades of war have simply brought more decades of war, and today the young of both Gaza and Galilee flee from bombs on the beach.
Among the daily horrors emerging this week was the Israeli bombing of an apartment building in the Lebanese village of Qana that killed dozens of innocent civilians, including 37 children. It's been only 10 years since the Israeli government struggled to explain the killing of innocents in the same village.
As over 800 civilians huddled in a UN shelter in April 1996 to escape the last attempt to eliminate Hezbollah, Operation Grapes Of Wrath, an Israeli bomb slammed into the structure, killing 106 and wounding 116, as Hezbollah operated nearby.
The blind-rage response of war failed then; it can only fail now.
The greatest political actions of the last 50 years have been achieved, in part, through pacifism and immense creativity. Yet almost no one is saluting the white flag, no movies are made celebrating the bravery of people who used their imagination and their bodies to topple governments and kept the guns silenced.
When Europeans lost their appetite for attacking one another during the second world war, they discovered common ground and gave each other something to lose besides their families' lives. Since the creation of the European Economic Community and its growth into the European Union, none of its member states have tried to obliterate each other, despite having done so on a regular basis as a first-stop solution for centuries.
The Soviet Union and its satellites, despite its huge emphasis on waging war, were dismantled by largely peaceful acts of protest. Sure, the economy was in tatters and had been for decades, but the "enemy" the U.S. couldn't defeat with a horrifying arsenal was eliminated by unarmed people on the streets and by soldiers who showed true bravery not in bearing arms but in refusing to use them.
Hungarian Prime Minister J&oactue;zsef Antall, a victorious dissident in 1992, complained of the West's failure to acknowledge their achievements, noting: "We stuck to our posts, we fought our own fights without firing one shot, and we won the third world war for them."
Combatants all over the world are showing themselves prepared to lay down their arms if they are offered engagement, a chance to make a living, to express themselves, build a better life and, yes, live in peace. They rarely give up their guns if others are attempting to kill them or their children.
The Lebanese people were recently brave enough to chase Syrian occupiers from their country, their own pacifist response to the bloody actions of their occupiers' supporters. Residents of Gaza recently participated in their first real democratic elections, but made the mistake, apparently, of voting for the wrong guys.
Now both peoples are being bombed into a hell that will leave them and their countries forever damaged, with their appetite for peace diminished. And Israel will be yet further from the peace for which so many of its citizens long and of which so many dreamed when they came to the Mideast in the first place.
It's time to wage peace and demand it of all of our leaders. Time for Canada to stop mouthing pre-chewed American words of war and get back to being an example of tolerance and hope to a world that has far too many failed faces of war.
War breeds war. Peace can breed paradise.