For the first time in forever, I was able to savor a quiet, un-busy weekend at home, so I curled up with a blanket and a cup of tea on Saturday morning to catch up on my long-neglected newsfeed. Lucky for me, I stumbled upon this essay written by a talented mom who blogs at You Have Six Kids? In her post, she reflects on the question of how to teach kids kindness in a world where unkindness often feels like the norm. Her post caught my attention because she drives home the point that we, as parents, as people, cannot allow fear to seep into our hearts and erode our own values of love and generosity toward others. Recent events in Paris and Mali have fed into our darkest fears, fears that aim to manipulate and isolate us.
In her post, she explores the truth that when bad things happen in our lives, we are tempted to disconnect from others, to focus on self-preservation at the expense of what is inherently good about ourselves and our country. Helping people who need us can be scary. It can feel risky. It can even be painful. But that doesn’t mean that helping is any less right than it was the day before something terrible happened.
And these ideas really got me thinking about how my feelings do not give me a one-way ticket out of difficult situations. About how uncomfortable predicaments that test my convictions not only allow me to help others, but also promote my own personal growth. About how if I am able to help, and available to help, and especially if God has put me in the right place at the right time to help, then helping is not so much my choice as it is my responsibility. About how our children learn to do good by watching and participating when we ourselves do good, and about just how many opportunities to help others exist all around us every single day.
Now, I don’t know the mom who wrote this article, but she has street cred, for sure. Her personal story is the epitome of faith in action. You can check it out on her blog. She is selfless. She is generous. She is inspiring. I am grateful to have read her words this morning.
But there was something else that stuck with me after reading her essay, something that I just couldn’t shake from my brain. Here it is, in the second part of this statement from her post: “Teaching kids to be kind to one another can be difficult, considering we live in a world fueled by hate and evil.”
Teaching kids to be kind can definitely be difficult. Preach it, Sister!
But a world fueled by hate and evil?
That. Is. Depressing.
And I just can’t believe that it is true.
Now let me just say, based on the rest of this writer’s essay, that I’m not so sure that she and I disagree on this point at all. In fact, I have a feeling that we would actually be on exactly the same page here if we had a heart-to-heart conversation over lunch, like mom friends do. But this IS a scary premise that many people embrace these days, and it feeds anxiety, and it has influenced some smart people to do and say some crazy, hateful things, exactly the kinds of things that this writer challenges in her post.
Don’t get me wrong. There is hate and there is evil. We saw it in Paris. We have seen it on American soil. We have witnessed it through vile acts of international terrorism and through deplorable examples of domestic crime. We watch it on the news locally, nationally, and globally every day. It runs as a constant stream across our newsfeeds. It interrupts normal broadcasting. It screams for attention through “Special Reports” and “Breaking News.” Photographs of perpetrators of evil flash across our television screens and glare at us from the front pages of newspapers. We watch footage of bombers hiding their secrets in crowds at marathons and planes crashing into buildings over and over and over again.
And we start to believe that this is all there is outside our front doors. The world is hate. The world is evil.
Except that it isn’t.
Remember that fear we were talking about? Well, he’s a liar.
As the writer at You Have Six Kids? explains, we teach our kids kindness by showing kindness ourselves, especially when being kind is a difficult, scary, or inconvenient thing for us to do. She is so right! Let’s also teach our kids kindness, even when frightening things are happening all around, by helping them to SEE THE GOOD in the world outside of the bubbles that we have created for them.
Because it is everywhere.
Because it is powerful.
Because it is contagious.
Because it can change people.
Because it can build a bridge where there is only a divide.
Because it can speak English. And Arabic. And Chinese. And Russian.
And because last week, we all learned to speak kindness in French.
Good is always present, even in the dark places where evil lurks, even in the face of terrible atrocities. There are always some people who are choosing to do what is good. Always.
I want to help my children see them.
I want them to know that there were many, many more people praying for Paris than attacking it, that there were many people from many places sending resources to help, that there were many countries offering assistance.
You see, my goal is not to shield my children from the harsh realities of the world around them, but I do want them to see a world that is fueled by faith and hope and love, a world where evil, while it may threaten, cannot maintain a strong grip if the people who are working for good are working together. I want them to focus on the heroes. I want them to see the servants. I want them to know that in the battle of good against evil, the good guys outnumber the bad.
It is my goal, just like it is the goal of the mom at You Have Six Kids? and the goal of the other moms who are part of my village, to raise children who become the men and women who someday lead our communities and our nation in pursuit of what is right.
We can teach our kids to DO the good even when the work is hard or scary.
We can teach our kids to SEE the good even when the bad demands our attention.
And we can teach our kids to BE the good wherever in the world life takes them.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/33011324@N00/502116633″>gratuitous eiffel tower shot</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28232355@N05/7966684542″>Rock Hard Love</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85608594@N00/14493000464″>Johann Wolfgang von Goethe A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>