How wars get started

When in 1975 I became a student at Cambridge University my parents visited me there. It was actually their first stay in England. My mother was enchanted with the country. I wanted to know why and she explained that houses were “normal”, people behaved “normally”, everything in England was so essentially “normal”. I pressed her gently about the source of such “normalcy”: “Well”, she said, “houses look like Dutch houses; people respond to you like they would in Holland; you know…”

Adriana’s father is Romanian and he shares with my mother the same sound sense of normalcy based on the national spirit: in his mind being Romanian is not only the ideal but also plainly the “normal” way to be. My mother passed away five years ago, I could still envision a passionate debate between her and Adriana’s father about the very nature of “normalcy” and I immediately got a sense of how wars get started.