If you are anything like me—whether you are a parent or whether you see children and you see our world, and you worry—then this is for you.
I recently took a trip with my two toddler girls. We landed at our destination to hear the news of terrorist attacks, and we returned to our home city to find out that there had been yet another police-involved shooting where allegations of racism were already being flung around.
Bullying is something that I am already addressing with my daughters as they will be going to school soon, and school shootings are yet another legitimate concern.
Climate change is affecting our planet and the concerns that our children will not even have clean water to drink when they are older is a possibility—in fact, many experts believe that this is likely going to be the case if things continue in the direction they’re going.
I see my daughter playing with her toy horses. She has always loved horses and I hear both of my girls repeatedly asking about the moon, which they innocently think is following us wherever we go. The girls play together, they giggle, they pretend, and they love their favorite movie about snowballs.
They have no idea yet that the turmoil in this world exists.
Admittedly, there are times when I resist a feeling of guilt for having brought them into this place, and the fear of their future could easily overwhelm me, if I allowed it to do so. I even know of people who are intentionally choosing not to have children for this reason.
Personally, I do not agree. The future can still be a beautiful experience for them, no matter what situations may arise.
We have the power to choose the type of experience that we have in this world, and to a much larger degree than many of us realize. We do not have to feel as if we are victims of certain circumstances, and we do not have to allow the difficulties of the world to effect our capacity to love and to see and feel the beauty that is always there.
There has always been darkness in the world, and there always will be but we can all rise above it—all of it.
We gain nothing by comparing our current situations to what has been or to what other people’s experiences are now. Times may be different, but pain and suffering have been part of the human experience on one level or another throughout the history.
The best that we can do to create a better world for our children, is to choose to create a better world for ourselves—right now.
Our hope lies in the power that we have in this choice, and it is a choice that is available to each one of us. I would even argue that this is more than a choice; it’s responsibility in the form of opportunity.
When we see the suffering in our world and on our planet, we can choose to each stand strong and not allow the fear and sadness to deter us from responding with compassion and love.
Reacting with fear in our everyday lives can affect the greater picture. Even a small thing, like a parent’s angry rant at the dinner table, can add to the chaos and creates a ripple effect.
Fear and hatred can spread in the sneakiest of ways, and it is up to us to choose something different—starting with our own perceptions and thoughts.
It does not matter whether it is the bully at school, or a terrorist. We are all people, and teaching our children not to respond hatefully to violence is not a philosophy based on conditional acceptance or practices.
There is no imaginary line drawn amongst us where some are worthy of our compassion and grace and others are not.
Although this might seem unrealistic to some, or maybe ignorant to others, there is absolutely no line.
This does not mean that we go out and throw an ice cream social for those who try to harm us. Rather it means acceptance to the degree that we see the pain and dark beliefs which contribute to the actions of some. We can then choose to not allow it to affect us in ways where we feel or react with emotions that escalate any situation or spread into our lives.
We still make safe choices as putting ourselves in harm’s way is not self-love, but we have the option to not make these choices based on fear.
There is still beauty in this world—there always has been and there always will be.
Nature whispers of this beauty around every corner. We see the innocent curiosity in our children, and we can still choose to see small (and big) acts of kindness that exists and always will.
There is beauty in collaboration, even the simple collaboration of freeways full of cars all traveling to the same destination, everyone just doing their best to have what they believe is the best experience possible for them–even if it is not perfect.
We can be aware of the darkness in the world but we do not have to get stuck in the suffering.
We have somewhat of a default mode to protect ourselves in times when we feel threatened, but we also have another part of ourselves that can respond in manners that can even negate some of what can be horrific ramifications of certain events..
Despite the challenges of this world, we have the option to pivot toward what we want for both ourselves and our children.
We see what we focus on and if we focus on the flaws rather than the solution in any relationship—be it a marriage or international dynamics—this is all that we will be able to see.
We can teach our children that they are the essence of beauty, and we can demonstrate the allure of living a life which does not engage with darkness—whether it is on a playground, or overseas.
We can do our best to nurture them in ways which give them a sense of belonging, so that they are not tempted to find this in toxic situations. We can teach them about their relationship with our planet and how to nurture it.
It is time to pivot—all of us and individually—so that we can create an even greater momentum toward something better in what seem like dark times.
Those of us who are making the choice to coexist with each other and our planet can choose to stand firm in these choices. We can teach our children not only to stand firm as well, but we can teach them to see the beauty and to respond with love and grace.
We cannot deny that we coexist. We cannot deny that this planet is home to all of us.
It is our home now for us and it will be home for our children and for their children as well.
We can extinguish the fears that we have about our children’s future by standing firm in perspectives that we choose intentionally and not wavering in this when difficult situations arise.
We all have the option to shift things in ways that are so great that we can not even realize the collective power that lies in our individual choices and perspectives.
It is the “ripple” that we send out in the present that determines what our children will experience both now and in the future.
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: U.S. Fotografie/Flickr