“What would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?”
Last week the world was full of light as the new year dawned full of promise. This week, we were once again cast into the shadows of terrorism, this time in France. The 24-hour news channels broadcast every moment of disquiet, and when there was no news to report they filled the time with conjecture.
“Shadows retreat to hidden places, only to return in the wake of the war between dark and light.”
It would have been nice to have a few more weeks of joy before the shadows of fear and extremism were once again upon us, but sadly it was not to be. Why then focus my response to this week’s challenge “shadowed” on the children? Because they are the future. They are the ones who will decide whether to emphasize our differences rather than our commonality, to make war rather than seek peace, to accept hate as a given, or not. They will be the survivors who fight the battle for a world bathed in light or consumed by shadows. So what shall we teach them?
“Shadow is Light’s child.”
For those who travel, it becomes obvious that poverty and despair are often situational. To have been born into a free country, to parents who love us and teach us that life, if not exactly fair, is what we make of it, is an incredible stroke of pure luck . For those like these children, born into different circumstances, perhaps that lesson is a bit more difficult to absorb.
“Some things are ill to hear when the world’s in shadow.”
Let me be very clear, I believe the actions of the terrorists in Paris are pure evil. I find myself wondering how it will all end. Is there no way to stop the escalating horror? (Personally I think the end of 24-hour news and talk shows would be a step in the right direction, but that’s just me.) But I digress….
“Each of us has an equal amount of shadow and light buried in our souls.”
In my opinion – for what it’s worth – the answer lies with the children. We can teach our children the importance of understanding and of generosity. We can teach them to consider what life must be like for those who face each day without the most basic of necessities – food, shelter, and love. We can teach them that hate and fear are not the answers that will remake the world. We can hope that as globalization becomes more prevalent and the world becomes ever smaller, they will find a way to create opportunity and hope for the less fortunate among us.
“You don’t find light by avoiding the darkness.”
I chose specifically to close with a capture of a child surrounded by love, in the firm belief that there is still hope. We cannot wave a magic wand and change the world. We cannot engender change by avoiding the darkness. We cannot stop terrorists from hating. But we can teach our children the value of caring and of sharing. We can help them to understand that terrorists use a warped version of religion as their justification, which doesn’t mean that religion is bad, only those who distort it. We can show them by example that helping those in need may stop innocent children from becoming tomorrow’s terrorists. Yes, I recognize that there will still be those who hate. But perhaps there will be fewer of them, with less powerful recruiting capability.
With thoughts of sadness for those who lost their lives, and even more for those who loved them, I wish you peace. Together may we find a way out of the shadows sooner rather than later.