Let’s face it: the world can be a terrifying place and at times depressing, so depressing. As a parent I often fantasize about packing up my three young children and taking off to a distant country in which we can live off the grid, ignorant of the 24-hour News cycle and all of the dangers, disasters and struggles that plague our little blue and green planet.
As a parent I desire above all things to protect my children from becoming hurt physically and emotionally.
But I have to remind myself that every country has its oppressors and challenges, and that even if we escape the rest of the world, there are still personal struggles built right into our very own DNA that are inescapable.
At times like this, I can only cling to HOPE.
Hope that I am teaching my children to live with courage, empathy and love, instead of in fear, ignorance and greed. I was reminded of how simple these lessons can be when my son piped up after witnessing me hand a few granola bars through my car window to a homeless man pan handling on the edge a highway over pass:
“When people are hungry we give them food, right Mommy?” He asked.
“Yes”, I replied.
“And when they are cold we give them a blanket, right Mommy?”
“Yes, that would be a kind thing to do.”
“And if they don’t have a home we should build them one! Right, Mommy?” His eyes shining now!
“Well yes, I guess that’s would be even better.” I smiled, a little emotional.
Can you imagine if I hadn’t rolled down my window? What lesson would my kids have learned from me then? I often forget how much my boys are watching, absorbing and concluding about the world around them and how to interact and treat others.
As a parent, it starts with me. Parents help build the foundation for children who will grow into adults who care about people - and who care about making a difference.
This can be an overwhelming burden - but really it's as simple as modeling the behaviour yourself: taking the time to smile at other people, learning not to discriminate, and acting in love and with generosity.
Today, August 19th is World Humanitarian Day , a day that acknowledges humanitarian workers globally who respond to people in crisis due to disasters, war, and epidemics. When I think about these people who go into areas that others are fleeing and risk their lives for the wellbeing of other people - strangers who they have never met, I have to ask myself, “Wow! How do you respond to this scary world with such courage and compassion?” And I really hope it is because as children they saw their parents or others around them reaching out to someone in need and that impacted them so unshakably in the face of fear, terror, and oppression.
Read more about World Humanitarian Day here.