My Dear, Sweet Kiddos,
What can I tell you about the insanity that took place this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia that would make you understand? How can I explain to you why people would treat other human beings in such an absurd and inexcusable manner? And why, in the name of all that is holy, should this even be something that we need to talk about in this day and age?
To be very honest, I just don’t know.
Every scene I watch on the news breaks my heart. And I know it breaks yours, too. Especially you, my sweet girls! Lucy, you ask why the people are so angry and I have to tell you that they don’t like Jewish people. Leah, you ask what the KKK is and weren’t Nazis from a long time ago, and I have to explain things that you should only see in history books by now. Adam and Josh, you don’t ask much, but I know you watch. I know you take it all in and are appalled, confused, and quite possibly a little upset. And rightly so.
You saw angry people carrying torches, fights breaking out in the streets, and American flags mixed with flags that only symbolize hate. You saw footage of a person driving a car straight into a group of people. You’ve seen the pictures of three people who died because of this mess. Yes, seeing human beings treated in such a horrific fashion should absolutely make you uncomfortable, sad, angry even.
But discomfort and sadness and anger are not the lessons I want you to learn from this. They are completely real and worthy emotions, so recognize them and feel them. Be horrified. Ask questions. Cry if you need to. But then hold onto these lessons…
Every person you will meet has dignity.
We are a Catholic Christian family. We believe that God created all human beings. That everyone, every single person on the planet, was created in the image and likeness of LOVE itself. It doesn’t matter what color their skin is, what size they are, how old or young they are, how they express their gender, how or if they worship, whether they like boys or girls, or what part of the world they are from.
Every person has worth. Every person has dignity. And they don’t need to do, say, or be anything to earn that worth or dignity. It is simply a part of them because they are a child of God.
That is not negotiable, nor debatable.
Some people choose evil over good.
Why? You ask. Why, if God made everybody and is in everybody, do some people act like what we see on TV? Why do they hate?
Well, kiddos, it’s because God gave us something called free will. We can freely choose to follow Him and do good or we can choose to turn our back on Him and do bad stuff.
He gave us all the tools we need (the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the catechism, etc) and a whole bunch of helpers (the Holy Spirit, our parents, our consciences) to choose good. But there are other voices in the world. Voices that are sometimes louder and harder to tune out than God’s whisper in our hearts.
Choosing good can sometimes be difficult because it asks hard things of us. It asks us to put others before ourselves and to always look for the good in other people. It asks us to work hard, even if we don’t like what we’re being asked to do. Choosing good is a brave choice and it takes courage. Choosing good is choosing LOVE.
Choosing evil is often the easier choice. It tempts us to think we are better than we actually are, that we are better than others, that we matter more. And for some people, that’s just too attractive a thing to deny. Whether they are raised or bullied or seduced into thinking that way, good people can make bad choices. Choosing evil is choosing HATE.
God doesn’t make people evil. They choose it for themselves. Make sure that you choose well.
It’s your job to show LOVE to the world.
It’s that simple and, yes, it’s that challenging.
Try to see the world from someone else’s point of view.
Ask questions instead of making judgments.
If you disagree with someone, challenge their argument and not their dignity.
Share your talents with the world and encourage the talents of others.
Look for Jesus in every person you meet.
Use the privilege you have been born with to help other people. Kiddos, it isn’t fair that the world works this way. Not for you or for people who are different from you. But you have been born into a white, Christian, middle-class American family. You don’t understand yet the level of responsibility this gives you to look out for others, but you’ll learn as you grow. It’s kind of like that saying you know so well, “with great freedom comes great responsibility.” Well, with great privilege comes great responsibility, as well. Look out for others and always be willing to help when you can.
This is in no way a complete “how-to” list. I know you’ll find even more wonderful ways to show your love and the love of God to the world. And I can’t wait to watch you do it, you amazing creatures, you!!
I wish I had all the answers.
I wish I had all the answers and could protect you from everything. But I don’t and I can’t. In fact, I kind of think it’s my job as your mom to not always give you the answers, but just to help you figure them out for yourselves.
I wish I had all the right words of encouragement and instruction, but I don’t. Only God does. Don’t let that intimidate you, though. Instead, let it inspire you to run to His word and to His helpers here on Earth. Pray to Him, talk to us, reach out to your godparents or our wonderful priests and deacons at church. You have all the resources you need to help you choose good.
You are all so precious to me. Your dad and I promise to do all that we can to help you figure out your way in the world, to teach you right from wrong, and to show you the way of LOVE.
It’s the least (and the most) that we can do.
3 thoughts on “A Letter to My Kids: Charlottesville”
I’m glad that I know you. This certainly shows how God is using you to reach out to not only your children, but also to any person that reads this. Love you.
Such a difficult subject to tackle, and to guide your children through. They are so blessed by their mama’s ability to help them look at things through the eyes of faith, and let it lead them through. I love you.
Beautiful! Thank you for this. It’s something we all need to hear.