Hope Out of Horror

There isn’t an easy way to put this: it has been a terrible summer in Colorado. We have watched thousands of acres of forest and hundreds of homes become engulfed in flames. Our farmers to the east are losing their livelihoods, and our food supply, to severe droughts. We all received a collective punch in the gut on July 20th when we woke up to learn that even something as simple as going to the movies may never be the same. And our community was rocked to its very core a few weeks ago when the news broke about the Denver preschool teacher with the child porn collection we were reminded, once again, that some of the most terrible people in this world are lurking in the friendliest of places. It can leave a person wondering if there is any hope at all left in this world.

A close friend of mine recently confided in me that she was reconsidering having children altogether over the past year. She cited her main reason as the awful things that happen all around us and that the world seems to be getting progressively worse. She asked me, “How do you do it? How do you raise your daughter and not just feel sad and afraid for her?” The truth is, I often feel sadness about the state of the world and wonder what hope the future holds for my daughter. I think that this is likely a normal thing that many parents think.

I have been mulling this thought quite a bit this summer and here is the conclusion to which I have come: our children are the hope…and so are we. I profess my awareness to the fact that this “I believe the children are our future” thought is completely unoriginal and something to which people refer regularly. However, the fact that it has become so cliché to say is the exact reason why I’m saying it. We have become desensitized to our own positive social reinforcement (how could we not when the message itself is a top 40 hit from the 80’s?). I want to remember this and focus on it, especially now.

The world is a beautiful place full of incredible people with the best of intentions. Our children are 100% goodness and we have a responsibility to them to hold hope in our hearts and communicate hope in our actions. I spend my days working in this amazing school and I am so inspired by the incredible goodness of the children and adults in the community that it is nearly overwhelming. Although the happenings over the past few months in Colorado (and everywhere else for that matter) have been crushing and downright scary, there is a plethora of hope everywhere around us.

The worst thing that we can do in times like these is make choices based in fear. The best thing we can do is to choose into joy, wonder, openness and respect. When we find ourselves in awful situations, we are instinctually driven to a fight or flight mode. Although this reaction makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, it doesn’t serve us well in a modern society. The bad thing isn’t a lion in the jungle trying to eat us. Instead the bad thing is a result of the construct of our modern society. Since none of us can escape this reality, we are left with an opportunity to be open to it and use our inherent tendency toward good in our interactions with each other and the world around us.

This begs the question, “How do I buy in to hope and pass it on to my child when there is so much pain in the world?” I quote Albert Einstein: “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” This is where you come in. You can choose into the good with every word, deed and action.

Look your child in the face. Not for a moment, but for a long time. Tell me that there isn’t infinite promise in that little person. Now, look yourself in the face for a good long time as well. Guess what? You are filled with infinite promise as well and you have a responsibility to own up to your own amazing nature and show up in your life every day. When you are sad and afraid, you have a hard time showing up completely. It is our nature to put up walls of protection when our well-being feels threatened. Yet we have the amazing ability as human beings to consciously recognize our psychological patterns and alter them by way of practice.

We are in an unfortunate position in our world currently. Too many people are choosing fear, aggression, judgment and unsubstantiated gossip as a means of survival. We can feel a need to just stay inside our homes and avoid anyone that doesn’t show a complete alignment with our way of living, or we can choose to act in a way that is saturated with positive intention and curiosity and we can share it with our children and the people we love.

The fact of the matter is that your child knows to be nothing other than curious and hopeful. This provides us with a wonderful opportunity to change our patterns and behaviors that are currently based in fear into something that will lift our children up and fulfill their natural tendency toward good. When we find ourselves in situations in which we are swarmed by pain and horror, we also find ourselves in situations where we have a choice. We can fixate on the horror or we can fixate on the hope. I choose hope. What about you?

 

“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” –Dr. Maria Montessori

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~ by vegucationmama on September 8, 2012.

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