A Letter to Our Children:
We adults must be very confusing at times. Too often, we have not protected you from the open and random expressions of bigotry, racism, and violence in our world, and in our community. Most often, we fail to protect you from the endless barrage of media imagery that portrays how angry, unfair, ugly and mean spirited human beings are toward one another, how they will slaughter someone else simply because the other is not like them or does not agree with them. Because difference is threatening. Because some believe that, they must reject or destroy what is different. Because a deep fear of difference turns so readily to hatred.
Another advocate for social justice and equality died in Charlottesville. Nineteen were injured in that confrontation, the latest public failure of adults to provide an example of decency and civility, of respectful regard for all people.
What are you thinking now? What are you feeling…doing…being in response? I want to listen closely to your soft, hesitant as well as your loud, angry words, your non-words, too. I want to hear you breathe ever so cautiously or when you hyperventilate, experience you while washed in anxiety, which now spills over.
You are right. Your feelings are right. Hatred is just wrong. Silencing someone’s speech is wrong. Taking a life is always wrong. What happened in Charlottesville simply is wrong.
Most importantly, I am writing this letter to you because we know that in this imperfect world, you can get through this. You have before, using help from family, caring adults, and positive peers. People. Prayers. Preoccupation with healthy distractions.
You reveal your resilience with your tears, sadness, your clinginess, as well as your hope, resourcefulness, and trust. You still dream, dance in the rain and laugh at silly jokes. You move forward, through the day to day, still hoping we adults will figure out how to protect you, and how to teach you not to hate, but to love instead. Ultimately, this is our most important adult responsibility, and this is the only way we will build a just and moral society for your future.
We make this commitment to you.
Sheryl Brissett Chapman
The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF)
Hate will not drive out the darkness, only light can do that. Hate will not drive out hate, only love will do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.