Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Happens Next?

Dear Hugh and Louisa,

It’s Nov. 9, 2016. I write this letter to you bleary-eyed from lack of sleep and understanding.  Last night, our country elected a new President.  After months of mud-slinging and hate speech, it’s done.  And the outcome was not what I had hoped or expected.   Instead of waking this morning feeling confident and excited about the future, I am scared.  Scared for you.  Scared for us.  I’ve never quite had a feeling like this before, but I am keenly aware that it is something that many in this world live with on a daily basis.  Being afraid feels paralyzing.  And I sat in the paralysis as the results poured in, trying to come up with a plan – should we leave the country?  Should we take our money out of the bank?  Should we get our passports in order?  Should I call my Mom?

But then morning came.

And I heard you begin to stir.  Louisa, you were singing your version of Twinkle Twinkle from your crib with all the gusto you could muster.  Hugh, you began kicking the walls in anticipation of a new day.  And I was reminded that we have work to do.  So we got up, and we started a new day.  Your Dad and I put on happy faces despite the dread we fear about the future.
We have work to do, dear children. And this election has made it all the more clear that we cannot push the responsibility of raising kind and generous children off on anyone else.  So, I thought it might be helpful to come up with a value statement for us – for how we interact with the world, to remind us of the path forward.

We will be kind – Kindness is a virtue that has all but been erased from the public discourse of late. And I will admit that I do not always model this.  We need to work on this.  We need to speak gently about other people.  We need to go above what we think is required of us, but rather seek out opportunities to be kind to each other, to animals, to the earth.  We will value this virtue above any other accomplishment one of us achieves.

We will be curious – The world is full of beautiful things and people that sometimes seem peculiar.  We will be a family that seeks out the unusual or the different and attempts to learn more.  We will ask questions.  We will read books.  We will value learning about new things in all forms. 

We will be forgiving – Things will happen to us that will hurt.  In fact, we may hurt one another – intentionally and unintentionally.  But, we are in relationship, and that relationship means we must seek to be reconciled at all costs.  Forgiveness must not and cannot stop there.  Forgiveness must be something we defer to in all situations.  Our family will heap apologies and forgiveness upon each other and the world as much as possible, because you cannot do too much of this.  Which leads to…

We will be generous – We will give away what we have when we can, and even when we think we cannot.  Our family is so incredibly blessed, and that blessing was not earned.  We were born into a particular context with a particular skin tone that has afforded us more opportunities than most.  We will make decisions about how we spend our money and our time based upon the premise that we have too much already. 

We will show up – It has become clearer and clearer to me that what matters most in this world is that you show up.  Whether it be to a baseball game, or a friend’s birthday party, or a funeral for a distant cousin, showing up means the person matters enough to be given a portion of time from your life.  And time is so precious.  So we will show up even when we don’t want to. 

We will be small – We will never think our lives are more important than anyone else’s.  We will always remember that our lives are a blip on the long history of time, that our earth is a small blip on the map of the universe.  We will also live small, because by living small we will ensure that we do not take more than we need or what is useful.

We will not be afraid – As I mentioned above, fear breeds paralysis.  And paralysis wastes time.  Even when it is dark and scary and we don’t know what will happen next, we will stand firm in our belief that love wins.  It must.

We will love when all else fails – The only thing I know for certain in this life is that love is the only truth.  It is the only unifier.  We are bound to each other as human beings through the common thread of love.  So, we will trust that love will win.  Maybe not now.  Maybe not tomorrow.  But it will win.  So we will love now.

So, now we move forward.  4 years seems like an awfully long time.  Hugh, in 4 years, you will be turning 8 and in 2nd grade.  Louisa, you will be 5 and in kindergarten.  Who knows what may transpire between now and then, but I commit to you now that these will be our foundational ways of looking at the world.  Regardless of whether my fears are unfounded or realized, we will continue the work of raising children/a family/ ourselves in a way that spreads a message of love.




Ron Hoffman said...

Sending love, Little Rachel. Uncle Ron.

Jon and Ruth Buuck said...

Thank you, Rachel!

Lora Dow said...

Beautifully said. Thanks!

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