The conversations in our home have been rather deep these days – to say the least.
With Martin Luther King Day coming up, we’ve been talking a lot about equality – and the times (past and current) when equal rights have been denied people based on their gender, race, religion or sexual preference.
We’ve also spoken about the tragic events in Paris – a place we’ve visited and where some of our friends and my sons’ teachers call home.
I know these conversations are big ones, and they’ve weighed on the minds of our young sons. So much, in fact, that the other night at dinner, our six-year-old son asked if we could change the subject.
Yes, in one meal, our conversation had gone from equal rights to free speech to anti-Semitism to war. And, that’s a lot for anyone, especially a young child still grappling with so much happening in their world.
So, we took a much-needed break from our heavy conversation, switching instead to talk of school, homework, sports and friends.
But, our conversation and recent events stayed with me.
To be honest, it’s been hard for me to process all that has happened in Paris and the resulting discussions. And, it’s made me afraid not just for the future. But, for the possibility of having history repeat itself.
My husband and I want our sons to be citizens of the world, and to always feel like they can travel anywhere, work anywhere, study anywhere or live anywhere. And, I truly hope that will always be the case, especially in Europe where our family traces its roots to Germany, Russia and Romania.
I would never want our sons to not feel comfortable living there. Or, even worse, to feel the need to hide (or feel ashamed of) any piece of them – including their Jewish heritage.
I was worried. I was sad. I was concerned. And, my idyllic view of hope seemed to be slipping away from me – until my nine-year-old son snapped me out of it with a heartfelt speech.
Yes, just as we sat down to start on homework, my older son declared that he wrote a speech. Standing in the middle of our kitchen, he went on to immediately recite it to me and his younger brother.
With a serious look and a proud smile on his face, he uttered several lines that simply blew me away.
“I have a dream that the world will be united in peace one day.”
“If you are hiding who you are, don’t do it because everyone is just a human.”
“There is hope in everyone but you just got to find it. It’s the same for a talent or being nice.”
And, then I asked him a string of questions.
“Did your English teacher ask you to come up with a speech?”
“How did you come up with it?”
“I wanted to write something like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.”
“Did you write it down?”
As soon as I heard his answer to my last question, I hurriedly told him to go write it down his speech so he could capture all of his thoughts.
In response, my son calmly turned to me and said that it was impossible of him to forget any of it – since the words are inside of him.
Yes. The words are inside of him – just like the hope he believes is in all of us (along with our talents and the ability to be nice).
Today, his words are written on a single sheet of looseleaf notebook paper. And, while he’s moved on to other things, I’ll never forget his words and the sentiment behind them. Because, upon those faint blue lines are the words of hope of our children’s generation – and those to come.
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