Despite the current headlines commanding every social media feed and news stations, I still believe that people are born inherently good. Some may consider that hopeless naivete but I call it hopeful optimism. I see light every day radiating from the eyes of my almost two year old. During these times of darkness and uncertainty, I’m choosing love and light to navigate me.
But yesterday? Yesterday’s emotions were a different story. Rage, sadness, bewilderment, disappointment – all the emotions becoming a little too much for my petite frame to bear. It seemed easier to retreat; to cover my ears and shut my eyes like a girl of 5 running away from the monsters that lurk. Praying that my parents will come, turn on the lights and banish the evil in my room.
But what do you do when you’re the parent?
You breathe. You suck up your fears and muster the courage to be brave. You use the hate of others to fuel your duty to shape a better world for your offspring.
At 21 months old, my son is far too young for conversations about the intricacies of race, religion, and other diversities that shape the human experience. And honestly, in only this instance, I am breathing a sigh of relief. At this time, I am clueless on how to craft the words to explain away the ugliness of hate.
How do you explain to a child that long after Dr. King marched in Selma, racism is alive and well? Only this time, instead of hiding behind hooded masks illuminated by a burning cross , they march openly and emboldened by perceived promises of a man who holds the highest office in the land. How do you begin to put into words that, despite this country being founded by immigrants, there are those who believe good hardworking people who carry their roots proudly have no place here?
For now, I find a little comfort in his limited vocabulary and understanding. But if there is one thing his brief existence has taught me so far, it’s that he is watching and he is learning. So in the meantime, I let my actions do the talking. We greet strangers with a smile, help those in need, and speak kindly when spoken to. My hope is that other caretakers will do the same. To model love, light and acceptance even when no one is watching. To raise a generation of children knowing kindness as the norm and not the exception.
Weekend Traditions – Model the Change
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
What transpired in Charlottesville is not an isolated incident. Believers of a supreme race march in middle school cafeterias, berate baristas, and grew to an astounding 917 active hate groups last year. Only this time, the world is watching. I believe that the more we see the depth of the hate, the more good people will be moved to action. Different people, with different shades saying “hate has no place here.”
But one day, he will inquire about why his skin is a different shade from his peers. He will notice the different groups in the school cafeteria. And, because history has an unfortunate way of repeating itself, he will inquire about the violence among different races on TV.
One day I will tell him about how God made us different colors on the outside but, most importantly, the same color on the inside. But first, I need to ensure that I model the change I want to see. As do you.
My hope is that their generation will grow up with a little more compassion, a better understanding, and far more courageous than their predecessors.