Growing up in a battleground

Knowledge can dissolve fear just as light destroys darkness – Peter Yancey

I tried to keep the news away from you that day, but I was sucked in when I saw a familiar neighborhood on the TV screen. I’m sorry I didn’t turn it off on time and you heard them talk about blood in the street and saw a shattered black SUV and police with guns drawn.

I tried to change the subject by talking about the bobcat creeping toward the vehicle, shields protecting against an uncertain enemy before I turned it off, trying to keep up via Twitter and Facebook and texting to make sure everyone was OK.

“Isn’t it amazing,” I said, “that they have something like that? I never knew they had something cool like that to ride on?”

I wish I had never it.

And the light goes on shining in the dark; it is not overcome by the dark. John 1:5

I turned on NPR’s app to listen to the short hourly update, and unfamiliar words resounded in your ears.

“Mom, what’s a mosque?” you asked.

I told you that it was a church for people who were Muslim. I explained that Islam was a religion like Christians, and they go to church like your friend does, the same church where you go to your meetings every week.

“Mom, what’s arson?” was your next sentence.

I explained that, because of what happened by us last week, people were angry. Because those people were Muslim, they thought all Muslims were bad and were scared of them, and someone had set fire to their church.

I explained that people were doing that everywhere, they were painting mean things all over them and being mean to Muslims, because those people with the guns had been Muslim.

I told him we wouldn’t want his friend’s church painted on, or mean things said, would we?

“Just because someone who is a Muslim did a bad thing, doesn’t mean all Muslims are angry. Muslims go to church and are taught to love everyone, just like you are taught what Jesus said, to love everyone.”

“They didn’t shoot people because they were Muslim and that made them angry – they were angry and just happened to be Muslim”.

I wish you hadn’t learned those words that way.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last night, you kept asking “Mom, what are you talking about,” when I was on the phone, explaining that there was a bomb threat at my college but everything was OK, no one was at class that I knew.

I told you that someone had said there was a bomb on campus, and that the police there were taking it seriously and had everyone leave – just in case.

That probably someone called it in just so they wouldn’t have to take a test, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have classes there anymore this year.

And then I woke up this morning and all of Los Angeles had their kids home.

I hope I don’t get a call like that.

“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula

I’m sorry you’re growing up in a battleground.

I’m sorry that all of the light that has been shown is being shut out – doors closed against it, candles pinched to extinguish the  flame, heads turn away from the warmth.

You have always loved anyone, and still do, and don’t know anything of a world where you would be hated for what you are.

But you are in that world.

Commercialism, greed, and the shouting of rage-filled ideals are spreading, smashing the green grass even as it waits for water, choking people as they eat, filling them with uncertainty.

I wish I was able to take you somewhere safe and away from all of this, but where would that be when the world sees us as corrupt?

People are escaping their dangerous homeland looking for a new life- as terrorism and hate battle it out against peace and love, will you yourself grow up in a war zone that previous generations created?

Constantly defending the good, showing love even against your enemies, holding a hand out for friendship and speaking against untruths?

Photographed by Bernie Boston for the Washington Post on October 21, 1967, while he was sitting on the wall of The Mall entrance by the Pentagon. Flower Power, 1967

Photographed by Bernie Boston on October 21, 1967, while he was sitting on the wall of The Mall entrance by the Pentagon. Flower Power, 1967


Or will the light flood the darkness and bring love, having people finally dropping their weapons, closing their mouths and only hearing the silence of peace?

I’m sorry you are growing up on a battleground, but I will wage the war for you, even as I place flowers in their rifle and hold my candle high.

And I will light your flame even if it is pinched out, and water the flowers for you to pick, and we will hold the flowers and light the flame for peace.