formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It Has to Stop Somewhere...

I struggle, like most parents I imagine, with how to explain to my child the violence and hatred we see displayed every day in the news. When 9/11 happened, I was so glad Ryan was only a toddler, as there was no way I could have possibly turned that event into something her child mind could comprehend… not without scaring the bejeebies out of her. My adult mind didn’t understand it. And it doesn’t understand what happened yesterday at the Holocaust Museum.

Last night, when Ryan was checking her email, she saw the news blurb about the shooting on the Comcast homepage. She asked me what happened. I explained. She was quiet, thinking, I’m sure, about our recent trip to the Holocaust Museum. Ryan, with her strong sense of self, was horrified at the idea that she, with her brown skin, would have been considered ‘inferior’ by Hitler and his followers. When we talked about the fact that there are still people who feel the way Hitler did, and who act upon those feelings by committing terrible, cowardly acts, she was shocked.

All she wanted to know was, “Why?”

How do you answer that? I told her it was about ignorance and fear, self-righteousness and narrow-mindedness, and, often, the perversion of religion and faith. I explained why it’s so important to open ourselves up to diversity and change, and why we must never, ever judge a person by the way he looks or the way he prays.

Last night, we read the preliminary reports about the shooter… he’s a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier. He’s also 88-years-old and he’s clearly lived a long life full of hate and anger. Ryan was disgusted. I was, too.

This morning, the subject was still on her mind… and mine. She asked me if the shooter was going to die. I said I didn’t know. She said she hopes so; that she hates him.

Part of me was proud that my daughter sees and is horrified by the injustice of racism. Part of me – maybe a bigger part – was saddened to hear the words, “I hate him” come from her, especially at 9-years-old. That feeling hit me hard, in part because I was thinking the same thing about the shooter last night.

I suggested to her that maybe, instead of hating him, we pity him. She was incredulous.

Ry: How can you feel sorry for him?! He’s horrible! He’s full of nothing but hate!

Me: Maybe that’s why I feel sorry for him. Can you imagine how black and mean his heart and mind are and how ugly his life has surely been? I think that’s very sad. Don’t get me wrong, I hate what he did. Absolutely. I hate it whenever anyone hurts another person. It's like when you lie to me. I hate that you lied, but I don't hate you. See, hate only creates more hate. And you know what? It doesn’t solve anything. Ever. It makes people do awful things and then other people seek revenge by doing something equally awful and it goes on and on and on.

Ry: So, don’t you think he should be punished?!

Me: Of course! Pitying someone doesn’t mean letting them off the hook when they do something wrong. But you know how I think he should be punished? I think he should be shut in a room for 12 hours a day, every day, for the rest of his life, and forced to look at big pictures of beautiful non-white and white people mixing – people of all races and religions and sexual orientations – living together, living their lives, helping each other, being happy, getting married, having babies, being successful. I think he should be bombarded all day, every day with the world as it really should be, and is in many ways – not the world as he’d like it to be. Can you imagine what sort of punishment that would be for a person like that?

Ry (laughing): He’d probably explode.

Me (smiling): Well then, you’d get your wish in the end, wouldn’t you?

Ry (thoughtful): I guess the hate has to stop somewhere, huh?

Me: It does. So how ‘bout we try to stop it right here, in our little corner of Pigsknuckle.

Ry: It’s not easy to do.

Me: Nothing worthwhile ever is.

Ry: Then I’ll try.

Me: Cool beans. So will I.

27 comments:

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

What a great conversation (under the circumstances, anyway). Very hard to separate actions from people, but it's important. I like your solution for the 88 year old guy. Make him face his ignorance head on.

sherri said...

I'm literrally on my way out the door and stopped by to say "Later gater!".

I feel exactly the way you do about Hitler.

Good job explaning this to Ryan.

Sam_I_am said...

I live in the Pennsylvania version of Pigsknuckle and the hate here is rampant. So sad, so hard to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Good job Diane.
Heather's M

mo.stoneskin said...

Not yet having a child old enough to speak I can only look forward to the day when I have such conversations but think you handled that admirably.

The really horrible thing is imagining what it is like in the mind and soul of someone who has lived all 88 years in bitterness and hate.

Soda and Candy said...

Wow, you are seriously Mother of the Year material Diane.

When I have kids I will ask you to explain everything to them, mmkay?

Amy McMean a.k.a McSunshine said...

I think you should print out these blog and bind them into a book, so when/if i ever have a child I'll know what to say. I think this was an amazing conversation and you did a great job of explaining this to Ry. I just wish more people thought like the two of you.

Comedy Goddess said...

Sounds like you pulled that around into something very wonderful! Good job!

Thanks for you comment at my house, you added another great observance about old parents.

only a movie said...

Wow, you rock. Seriously good stuff.

She said...

I titally and completely LOVE and ADORE you and Ry! What a fabulous conversation! I wish I'd had a mom like you to process stuff with, especially the really hard stuff like this.

When is it we're going for sushi? I need to put it in my calendar. ;-)

Mel said...

First...how great is my goddaughter? And her mom too?

And, you know from the text message I sent that I was worried that you guys might have been there when it happened.

You're right, it doesn't do any good to hate people like that. They truly lead lives that are so dark and sad. In your pursuit of happiness, you have your dark days, but these people truly never, ever see any light because they're consumed with the dark side of life. They'll never live a happy moment in their whole lives. That is surely pitiable.

Shanna said...

Got a little choked up there for a minute...such a smart kiddo you have brought up! :)

Jenera said...

You have a very perceptive girl there, very smart. I think you handled it great. I worry about when my kids get older and how to handle things happening in the world. And I'm sure it will only get worse. Good job for handling it so well!

hautepocket said...

You are basically the coolest mom, ever. (Besides, you know, my own). But seriously, Ry is a lucky girl. :)

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Diane, have you ever thought about writing a book about parenting - Even a novel - or one about celebrating diversity, and explaining that to children... As we all wander through the minefield maze that is parenting, you are a beautiful beacon, my friend... Ryan is lucky to have you as a mom, although there might be days when she doesn't show it, or realise it - Kids! Take care, love, Fhi xxx

dianne said...

Thats what being a great Mum is all about Diane, you have taken something that is really horrible and made it into a lesson about tolerance, understanding and being positive, taking the time to discuss the situation with Ryan.
Its such a shame that some people are full of hate and cant get along with anyone who doesnt fit their mould of the ideal, the world would be a much happier place. ♡

Heather said...

This post was incredible. I am SO proud of the way you handle things with Ryan. She is so wise beyond her years. And you? You are one heck of a mama, ya know?
I hope one day I can handle the tough questions with half the grace you have.

swenglishexpat said...

Diane, it is almost reassuring reading the previous comments. I'd like to think they are representative of the best part of mankind (womankind?). AND, I have said it before, you are such a wise woman and mother, it is such a difficult task to balance your words in a informative, convincing and persuasive way.

Isn't it ironic how so many religious people mean so well, yet think of all the conflicts and wars that have been conducted in the name of God. Why is that? Keep your religion to yourself and don't impose it on others!

And have a wonderful weekend!

Stu Pidasso said...

Breaking the cycle is an ugly and hard job to do, but it must be done eventually and better sooner than later.

San Diego Momma said...

WONDERFUL answers. I am printing this out so I can refer to it when my daughter starts asking these questions.

deb said...

You explained it perfectly.

Debbie said...

its so sad that we have to have these conversations with our kids!! What a world! and yet we do! So, way to go MOM!! You did an awesome job and you created a moment...one that will not be soon forgotten!! I've missed your posts!:)

Jenners said...

Well said, Mama. Well said.

blognut said...

Awesome answers - I will direct all future inquiries of this nature to you.

:)

And did I mention that I've missed you?

XO

linda said...

you did this so perfectly, how I wish I had such talent when my children were young and asked the same things...I kept the TV broken for years! now it's my grandchildren I worry about but I don't have to deal with it constantly as you do...this is a fabulous post!

many blessings...

LMN said...

Wow. So powerful. Goose bumps. So true. If we could all do the same thing in each of our little corners - but it IS hard to do.

So all we can do is try. And keep trying.

And I would totally LOVE to take Ryan (I know you volunteered her the other day) ... AND I know you would want her back.

Because she's such a great kid. And you know where THOSE come from? Great parents. ;) Good one.

Stinking Billy said...

Hi, sexy, just to let you know that I am back. x