Raising Children in a Dark, Heavy World

The world feels very heavy right now. Every single news article feels like there is this looming dark cloud over it.

Raising children in this constantly devastating news cycle and seemingly insane world is hard. I read the news about the tragedy in Virginia, the newest tragedy in what seems like a never-ending cycle, and I felt frozen. How do we keep carrying on with “normal” life when things like this are becoming more and more common? How do I create an idyllic childhood for my children and smile and act silly when there are monsters lurking in polo shirts? How do we make a difference amidst these acts of domestic terrorism? How can I raise two children–who will grow to be white men–to be tolerant and kind in a dark world? How can I best teach them that the equality of others does not equal the oppression of themselves?

I wish I had the answers but I don’t. The only solution I can find is to try my hardest to teach them tolerance and understanding and love for their fellow humans. All of those humans. I can only remind them that the world is a good place with bad people in it, not the other way around. I can teach them about different places and people and religions and beliefs. I can teach them to be strong and stand up for what is right–and hate is never right. I can lead by example by continuing to voice my opinions to local government and volunteer for organizations that look create equality. I can show them we are ALL equal and some monster in a polo shirt holding a tiki torch and spouting hate is NOT on “our” side. He is not one of the good guys. Children have to be taught hatred. Mine will not be taught it or be tolerant of it.

My promise to my children, and those they come across in their walks of life, is that I will always do my best to teach them kindness and understanding. I will do my damnedest to make sure they know that their skin or gender or social class or whatever else does not make them better than anyone else. I will try my absolute hardest to raise kind, loving men. I will fill their minds and hearts with love. I will raise them to believe in peace and fighting for what is right. I will teach them to do their best to understand the oppression of others and do their best to fight that oppression. I will raise them to be the good guys. I promise.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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