Friday, November 20, 2015

Let freedom ring

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. - Jimi Hendrix 

The email was brief: Did you see the news about Paris? The girls and I were reading in Violet's room. I immediately turn to my CNN app, and see the horrible devastation that attacked Paris flood my screen.

"Mom," Daisy says, "I count seven American flags on this street. Why are there so many flags, is it America's birthday again?"

I immediately remember the days significance. Of course, I remembered when I woke up, unable to forget the horrors after reading new articles of remembrance, but after spending the morning running around Fairyland with Daisy's Kindergarten class, I blissfully forgot.

Daisy is hitching a piggyback ride. It's almost one, triple digit heat, and we are wiped and are walking the half mile home to our house. We're hungry and thirsty, as we drained the last of our cold water on the 45 minute bus ride back from Oakland.

"No, it's not America's birthday. Remember that's July 4th. Today is a special day of remembering. A day of celebrating the courage and bravery of our first responders: our police officers, our firefighters, our military. Fourteen years ago, on this day, September 11, thousands of people died in America from an attack that was in New York City.  That's why our neighbors are hanging their American flags. It was an event that defined my generation. It was an event that changed the way our nation worked. It changed our future."

"One day", I tell Daisy, "you will learn about September 11 in your history classes. One day I will show you pictures of the event, and one day Daddy and I and others will tell you stories of where they were on the day the attack happen. One day we'll take you to visit the memorials, but today what is important for you to know is that we have freedom. We are thankful for our first responders, our firefighters, our police officers. We are thankful for the military. We are grateful that they gave their lives to protect ours."

My girls are obsessed with everything French. They want to take French language classes. They can find Paris on a map. Lily wants to see the art museums. Daisy wants to eat cheese in the park by the Eiffel Tower. They love to watch the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame and listen to the French songs and stories on repeat in the car. It's not just Paris, my children want to see the world. They long to visit China and Russia. Daisy wants to see the beaches of Costa Rica and walk with the penguins in Antartica. Lily wants to see the Peter Pan Statue in the Kensington Gardens and rub her hands over the Anonymous Writer Statue in Budapest.

I want to tell them about this devastation in Paris. I want say something concrete and useful. But, instead I put down my phone and look at my beautiful girls. I hug them and kiss them and hold them in my arms. I tell them to always remember that life, all human life, is precious.

One day my girls will learn about violence. They learn about anger and hate. I wish, I wish that I could protect them from those things forever. I know that this is unrealistic becuase this is the world we live in. But, what I do know is that I can show my girls, and teach my girls to love. I can shower them with comfort, compassion and love. I can show them kindness. I can teach them empathy. I can demonstrate tolerance and acceptance and peace.

John F. Kennedy once said, "Our most basic human link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." These words still ring true today, in fact, now more than ever. I want to teach my children that there is infinitely more that binds us together than separates us. And I continue to teach my girls that love is the only response to hate.

Some days motherhood seems like an overwhelming job. I need to be brave when I am afraid. I need to show compassion when I am angry. I need to give love when I am mad. But my hope for the future is that my children know a world fueled by love and peace, acceptance and tolerance. I want my girls to go to school without a worry about shooters on campus. I want my girls to travel the world without the worry of violence. I want my girls to know a life without terror.

I do not think this is an impossible dream because there is no amount of hate that can drown out love.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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