I woke up yesterday morning with every intention of writing an update about the boys. I already had the picture above posted and waiting on a few words from me. Things have been busy around here, so waiting lasted longer than I had planned.
Yesterday I sat down at my desk prepared to crank out some thoughts about the awesome Easter we had, as well as the recent weekend I spent alone with the boys while Katie was out of town (I had much appreciated assistance from grandma and grandpa). Believe me, I had plenty of material.
My writing didn’t get very far, though. I fired up my computer. I opened up Yahoo to do my morning scan of the news. And that’s when I saw the headline: Osama Bin Laden was dead.
I am now fully aware that my reaction was inconsistent with those of other readers. I understood the magnitude of the news, but as I read on, I was surprised to discover that people across the country had filled the streets in celebration. I got that response, I guess. It just wasn’t mine.
I couldn’t help but look back up at the picture of our two boys. Two boys celebrating Easter. I couldn’t help but notice their innocence, maybe as clearly as I ever had. It is an innocence that Katie and I foster. It is supported by loving circles of family and church members and teachers and friends. We are raising them to love and appreciate those circles and many beyond. I am the first to recognize that guarantees nothing. It does, however, expose them to far less hate than other children their age.
In lands far away, and in communities very close to home, many children are being raised in homes filled with hatred. They are taught that violence is a tool for that hatred, and they are assigned targets at which to direct it. These targets represent differences in religion and color and size and sometimes just simple opinion. By the time many of these young people become adults, their decisions are almost entirely guided by this hate. Every bit as much as Elliott and Ian’s will hopefully be made in love.
I have worked with many troubled youth. I have come to understand that being raised in hate is far more challenging to overcome than it is to continue the momentum of love that defines many of our childhoods. The more intense the hate, the bigger the challenge. It certainly doesn’t guarantee dire consequences anymore than raising our boys in love assures a happy ending. But it does define the starting point. And I happen to believe that head starts exist in worlds beyond schoolyard foot races.
I had to wonder what kind of starting point Osama Bin Laden had. I have no idea, but I wondered. I believe adults can put us on a path to killing someone as fast as they can put us on one to love that same someone. Even planes and buildings full of someones. It isn’t an excuse. It doesn’t re-classify killing innocent people as anything but evil. It just makes it a little more comprehensible. And maybe just a tad easier to skip celebrating the bullets that shatter one of the many, many faces of evil.
I also had to be thankful for a moment that I was raised in a home where I was taught at a young age that the value of my present and eternal lives are defined by a man who had already been killed, not by a list of those who needed to be.
And finally, I had to take one last look at the picture above and own the responsibility that, as parents, we will ultimately define the contrast Ian and Elliott see between love and hate. I pray it will be quite noticeable.