As most know because of news outlets, social media, conversation, and personal memories, it was the anniversary of '9-11'. Indeed a heart wrenching day in history that still lingers. It is a day that honestly I had not discussed with my children, as it has never come up to prompt discussion around them.
Today was the day that all changed. As we pulled out of the YMCA parking lot, Aaron began telling me that tale as if I had never heard it. I silently listened as he recounted the fateful day of 2 planes hitting two buildings called the Twin Towers "because they looked alike". How people on the top floors did not make it out and how many died. Followed by 'We shouldn't make fun of anyone.'
"Did you know that mom? Some people were mean and now we have 9-11."
"Yes." Such a small inadequate answer but my mind was full of thought. I was silent for a long time after that. Aaron stared out his window deep in his own thoughts for the rest of the trip home. Eerily quiet compared to every other night.
We arrived home, my mind still spinning, and truthfully my heart breaking as my youngest started this journey of realizing that sometimes people in the world are full of hate because of how they view life and the world.
As I prepared dinner Aaron was working fast and furious on something. I saw him scribbling for a long time. And then he came and said "Look at my picture of 9-11."
He turned it around and he began recounting the tale once more. "People died mom." He said sadly.
And then David asked a question that really was at the crux of my own thoughts about how I wanted to share such information.
"Mom, why did the people fly planes into the Twin Towers?"
"Well," I paused for a moment thinking about how love and peace start with ourselves, "Do you know how you believe in Santa Claus and some people don't?"
He and Aaron both were staring at me and intently listening. Sometimes a hard thing for a 6 and 7 year old!
"Do you get mad at them, and beat them up or call them names, or do mean things to them?"
"No" they both said.
"That's right, it is okay for you to believe in Santa just as it is okay for others to not believe. BUT that doesn't mean we can be mean to someone because they believe differently. The people who flew those planes into the Towers, believed one thing, but they thought that everyone should believe just like them and if they don't, they wanted to hurt them."
"Wow, that is not nice." David said. Aaron nodded in agreement.
"Exactly. We all may believe in different things, and we can even think that we are right, but we are NEVER EVER mean to anyone else or tell them how wrong they are and that they should be hurt because of what they believe. We should be peaceful and show love."
Then David asked another question that opened up the door for more great sharing, but tough at the same time.
"Is that why we say the pledge, because of 9-11?"
"Well, that's a hard one." I began. "You see, we should not be mean to anyone no matter where they live. Because we believe in God, we want to choose to show love and be peaceful to all people all over the world because God does that for us. The Pledge can mean different things to different people. And it can mean you really like where you live here in America."
It's a deep subject and tough to put it into a way that children can grasp and understand.
"But 9-11 gives us a chance to show others that we can believe different things, and maybe not even agree with each other, yet we can still love each other. Kind of like when tell me you want to watch TV but I tell you no because it's not good all the time. You may be mad at mommy right? But you still love me."
They both looked at me and then Aaron said "I wished no one died." And then they were off to do whatever it is that little boys do.
That said, the house has been fairly quiet tonight. Both in somber type moods. It is so hard to see them wrestle with such "adult" things so young. Death, war, hate. Something I wish my children never knew about.
Equally it was tough to explain because I have a hard time myself with such concepts and terrible things. When I think about 9-11 of course I think about that infamous day. Yet it prompts something even more in me.
I don't share this often because when I have in the past I've been called "unpatriotic." While I absolutely 100% think it was terrible what happened, I can't help but think "and equal horrors happen every single day in our world."
All such horrors should make
"The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012"
"More than five children die every DAY as a result of child abuse."
"More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way."
"Every two minutes in America someone is sexually assaulted."
"The average number of ER visits in America for assault each year are 2 million."
The list could go on and on. But the facts remain for me. Horrors are everywhere, world wide, in our own back yard, in our own lives. It's hard to focus on one day when all the days blend together in a stream of suffering, rage, hate, and blood shed.
I can not lie, sometimes it is hard for me to sleep at night when I begin thinking on such things. Since I was a young child I remember being acutely aware of these horrors. And I couldn't shake it. Often I feel overwhelmed, like I should be doing something, yet having nothing to give.
And I come full circle back to my children and think "what can I give them to help combat these horrors?"
The answers? The teaching of love and peace. It is not the be all to end all, but it IS a starting place to equip them, or a beginning in which to equip them to "be that change" as well.
Of course there is no simple black and white answers [or so I don't believe there are]. And there are many more thoughts swimming in my head. But those thoughts are for another time.
All this said, to convey that though my heart breaks that my children to have learn of such things, my heart also rejoices that if they so choose, they can show that love and peace and slowly make a change, one person at a time.