This morning I was asked to take my grandchildren to the park while their parents were hard at work remodelling their kitchen. On the way we stopped at the mailbox to pick up the Sunday morning paper. It was raining lightly when my grandson, aged 5, jumped out of the car to get the paper, but he grabbed the wrong paper and while we were getting that situation straightened around, a car pulled up beside me with an older grey hair woman at the wheel who yelled at me that I shouldn’t have my children doing the work. She repeated this several times and I answered her that they enjoyed it, thinking she was really mistaken about not giving children some responsibilities. At this point the “wrong” newspaper was being stuffed back into its box and the “right” newspaper was being pulled out of our box. I reflected on why she had wagged her finger at me in criticism, and I realized that she thought my grandchildren were delivering papers for me and doing my “adult work”. There wasn’t any way I could correct her false impression as she had already roared off down the road, but I reflected as we drove on that often in life people just plain misunderstand each other and for apparently good reasons on both sides.
The paper was flopped onto the front seat and the headlines blared out, “129 people killed in Paris shootouts”. My 8 year old granddaughter, catching sight of the headline, asked me about the shootings. I had to explain what had happened without explaining anything and made some vague comment like “there was a shooting” and hoped she would not ask any more questions, which she didn’t. I don’t want to burden her childhood with what will someday be the inevitable realization that some people are really “bad guys”, beyond belief.
This day has been surreal, mourning for those families who lost loved ones, concerned for the state of our planet, concerned about how good will triumph over evil, and what kind of world these grandchildren of mine are having to grow up in, reflecting on my own safe childhood where violence was so minimal after the end of World War II when all returned seemingly to normalcy. It didn’t matter that I didn’t personally know the American exchange student, she was somebody’s daughter and now their lives would be irrevocably changed and I could just imagine the awful pain they were experiencing.
Someone said on the news today that this violence is the “new normal”. What will come of this generation of children who are exposed to so much violence? Will we lose a whole generation of people in the Middle East, Europe and other countries who will have their lives redefined by the mass exodus of people moving around the planet seeking safety, and finding that even in so called safe countries there is still only more violence? Today, my husband reminded a Christian friend that Jesus cast out the demons in people and that there was such a thing as demon possession. His friend couldn’t really relate to the concept. I believe true safety is really only available in higher states of consciousness. The human experience is obviously fraught with danger as we and the people of Paris have witnessed this weekend.
Dr. Celeste A. Miller