Four years ago this post spoke to the simmering rage of a country divided. Sadly, in the interim years, progress at instituting change has been limited. Now the George Floyd tragedy has turned the world upside down. Once again, we plea for the power of love to prevail. Dear Lord, we do not want to read this post again four years from now!
My granddaughter is five and a half going on six. She is playing in the park with a group of kids her age. They are laughing, absorbed in their children’s games, exultant, spontaneous and innocent.
The afternoon light is filtered by leafy boughs, a photographer’s golden hour without scrims or gels, creating a glowing halo around my granddaughter’s flowing blond hair. She is angelic.
She has no idea about the madness going on in the world. And for that moment in time, watching her, neither do I. I am eighty-three and a half going on six.
I am watching pure joy and the scene floods me with emotion. There is a saying, “Go to a child for the truth.” It comes to me that this is the true nature the Buddha exhorts us to find within: this pure joy, this innocence, this unrepressed playfulness… so natural among the children; and lost to us as adults.
At home that evening the television is a messenger of hate. The scenes are savage. We are killing each other for incomprehensible reasons. The playground has become the killing field.
At the park there were Caucasian kids, African American kids, Asian kids, Latino kids… all kids, no parenthetical phrases, just kids! If I asked my granddaughter to describe her playmates, she would answer, “There was a girl with braids; a boy in a red sweater.”
On the TV screen the men and women with distorted faces lit by the harsh light of long-handled flashlights and blinking strobes describe each other in different terms; cruel, harsh terms that inflict pain and rage. The light of innocence does not flicker; the open heart has shut down; hatred has driven love from the playground.
Kids leave the park and grow up in the world around them, taught about differences they never realized existed. Each generation produces its own set of teachers and blameless students who absorb the venomous lessons of racism and intolerance.
I have a plan to interrupt the cycle. Stop posting videos of cute cats and the dumb pet tricks that make Facebook so fatuous; in their place post recordings of kids playing with other kids. Grandparents can lead the way, showing off their beautiful toddlers and showing how the world can be at the same time.
No viewer can resist. The child within all of us will reemerge, hanging on tight, screaming with delight as the spinning merry-go-round goes faster and faster. We’ll feel the joy of being kids again, having fun with the girl with braids and the boy in the red sweater.
How lovely life is when we play together in harmony.