How is it that someone can look into the face of a child and create such terror without feeling any sense of moral outrage? How is it that our beautiful world, full of so many wonders and mysteries, has to be dominated by human beings torturing, maiming, raping, despising, bombing, stabbing, ignoring, blaming and
mutilating one another? What kind of energy is released from all of this hatred?
How does it escalate into what happened at the school in Russia?
Or the mass killings in Rwanda? Or the death and destruction of the Twin Towers and the lives within? How is it that Palestinians are being held in concentration camps upon their own land, and yet the world turns a blind eye?
How is it that Ireland has conflict between religious groups that causes nothing but sorrow and deep seeded prejudice? How is it millions of people, every year, are sold into slavery and kept, ” secretly”, out of the public eye…yet these people provide clothing, toys, shoes, appliances, furniture for the entire world?
How can we stand it? How is it that care, compassion and forthright change
is not at the forefront of any sane person’s conversation?
How do I protect my children? How do I know their schools are safe? How do I know my president cares about any of this? How do I know what to do every day? How do we go on?
This is how we go on:
First, we must continue to talk about it. Conversation leads to action. Action leads to change. And change leads to more conversation. It is cyclical, it is necessary, and we must all be a part of leading the way.
When I get up in the morning, first thing I do is walk through my house. I walk through my house and I feel the floor under my feet and I thank God I can walk safely through my house on my own two feet.
I kiss my husband when he gets up. I am grateful I have a man I can count on, who treats me with dignity and respect and care. Who is an excellent father to our children. Who is kind and funny. Who I can talk with and move through this world with, asking questions and holding hands. Someone who delights in the sunrise as much as I do.
I brush my cats. I sit on the back stoop and they line up, tails quivering, happy to have the touch of a happy heart. I talk with my cats, brush their coats shiny,
kiss their noses. It is a small thing, to be connected with animals, but it keeps us humble. It reminds us that all creatures, great and small, belong in this world.
We don’t kill bugs. We release them outside. Spiders, cockroaches, flies.
(Occassionally, and only recently, we bought a fly “swapper”, but we always thank the flies as we put them down. But we always try catch and release first and foremost.)
We thank God. We say prayers at every meal, and whenever we feel like talking with God in between. We talk about God with our children. We ask our children questions and let them tell us what “is”. We explore our world and talk about different people and different countries and different customs and try different words when we raise our glass to toast whatever it is we have chosen to toast.
We spend family time together. We have friends and family over as often as possible. We have an open door. We love our neighbors. We ask how they are doing. They comfort us, as well. We have built a community, a small, symbolic system of what we pray the entire world can also have.
I am thinking of those families in Russia, those families in NY, those families in Oklahoma, those families of Palestinians and Israelis and China and Florida and
Cuba and Africa, and I am sending them love. It sounds so naive, doesn’t it? Sending love. What does that mean? I send them love. It is what I can give.
I give here, and I give when I meet a stranger, and through that giving I hope I reach all around the world through some lasting ripple of love.
Johnny Cash once said the reason he always wore black was because there was always suffering, and he would never stop wearing black as long as there was suffering. I understand what he means, the older I get.
And I am in awe of his message. I am in awe of his love for humanity. I will continue to wear color in my clothing because I recognize the suffering he describes, but I also believe in the hope. I believe in the changes. I believe that we shall overcome.