As mothers, we have a lot to fear when it comes to our children’s safety. Electrical outlets, grapes, busy intersections, peanuts, the flu, I could go on and on. Some fears are more reasonable than others, and some fears only affect a portion of us. But we fear the 6 million ways our kids could die to some degree. And sometimes, those fears, no matter how rational or irrational, can color our decisions for better or for worse.
This Shouldn’t Be Our Fear
This shouldn’t be our fear: We shouldn’t have to fear our children being indiscriminately murdered. We shouldn’t fear sending them to school. We shouldn’t fear taking them to concerts. We shouldn’t fear going to the movies.
But we do. In 2018 America, we fear that our children will be indiscriminately murdered. Our other parenting fears are “normal” in the sense that we know we do all that we can to protect them, but we have to live our lives.
We know that car accidents kill, yet we still drive because it is a risk worth taking. We know that in order to live full lives, we have to venture onto the road at some point.
We know that even if we feed our children whole foods, give them elderberry syrup and vitamin c like it’s our job and keep them home when they are sick, we could still lose them to disease. We can’t stop living our lives just because potentially deadly illnesses exist in the world.
We recognize this. We acknowledge these hazards as part of life, and we do all we can to protect our kids. We accept that we have to fear certain things and do our best to live around those fears.
But we shouldn’t have to fear indiscriminate murder. We shouldn’t have to fear that our children might be killed for simply existing in a public space. A high school. A church. A movie theater. An elementary school. A concert.
This shouldn’t be our fear. Polio was a real fear for our grandparents. We do not have that fear because they worked to find a suitable solution to the problem including better sanitation, increased knowledge and vaccinations. It is our turn to work together to find suitable solutions to the problem.
The one solution I want to focus on right now is compassion. I know there are more concrete, immediate solutions we can discuss, but this conversation is strictly about compassion.
Let’s talk about the ways we treat one another.
Do we show compassion to one another? Look at some of the comments on our Facebook page. Read some of the comments on news websites. By and large, we do not treat each other with compassion. We are not allowed to offer differing opinions or viewpoints online without being the subject of vicious attacks. In our society and especially online, we get a glimpse of one person declaring their stance on a controversial topic, and based on our passion for the topic, we decide whether or not we will show kindness and decency to that person. You may think “Oh, that’s just the internet, people don’t act that way in real life.” I have news for you: in the world our kids are growing up in, the internet IS real life. If you take the internet / social media as an example, we often neglect the Golden Rule. No matter how you view Jesus, he was spot on when he said:
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Do you want people to treat you with kindness and compassion? Do the same thing to others. Teach our children to sit with the kid at lunch who is alone. Acknowledge that your kid might be the one who is sitting alone. Explain to your daughters that fitting in by excluding others is not fitting in at all. Lead by example. Reach out to someone you know is lonely, even if they aren’t in your circle. If something alarms you about a friend, talk to them. Until we have a true change of heart, until we all feel like we belong here, we will have to live in fear of someone indiscriminately killing our children. Again, becoming more compassionate isn’t the only way, but it is one way. It is one thing we can all do today to help make tomorrow a better place. It is one thing we can do without having to depend on anyone else. We can show more compassion, more kindness, more humanity. I know everyone reading this is a good person, but I’m sure we can all do better. I know I certainly can.
This shouldn’t be our fear. And we can’t assuage the fear with compassion alone, but we can try. We can show more kindness. We can show more love. We can show more humanity. Will that solve everything? No. But it is one thing we can do right now.
I’ll start. I care about you. I care about you, as a fellow mom and human being. No matter your lot in life, no matter your political views, no matter what you look like, no matter if you’re “cool” or not, I care about you. I know that your shortcomings and mistakes do not define you. I know you are worthy of love simply for being. You are even if you feel don’t feel it. I know what it’s like to feel invisible, and I will do everything I can to ensure no one else feels that way. Do you want a friend? I’m here. Do you you have plenty of friends and are confident in who you are? Then go make friends with someone struggling.
This shouldn’t be our fear. This doesn’t have to be our fear. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we can work together make the world a better, safer place for our children.