Love and Duty in a Tragedy

On Sunday, we had a friend visiting from out of town.  He said, "The first thing I noticed when I walked through the door was how much love was in the house." And that is what we do, surround the kids with love and laughter because we know that we are responsible for the love we put out into the world.  With so much hatred and lack of understanding, we hope to create an environment where our kids understand that love is so much more powerful than hate. But Sunday was also a day where my husband and I, along with the world, were coping with the devastating news about the Orlando shootings.

As a parent, this means that we also have to figure out a way to have a conversation with the kids about it.  Most of the time it comes down to discussing the ways that we as individuals can help.

When the news of Brock Turner and the Stanford rape case broke, we talked to the kids about how it is their duty as a human being, to help those around you, instead of being a bystander. We talked about the importance of having consent with sex. But we also talked about the duty to take care of others, as those two young men did on the bicycles. Carl-Frederik Arndt and Lars Peter Jonsson chased after Brock Turner, tackled him, and held him until the police came.

We also talked about the golden rule of parties: "If you come with a group, make sure you don't leave anyone behind."  We intertwined it with the story of the three women in Los Angeles who saw a man dropping drugs in his friend's drink.  And how they went directly to the woman to tell her what they saw.  We gave them scenarios so that they can begin to think about what they would do.  We want them to understand that it is not enough to do the right the thing yourself, but that it is also your responsibility to act and speak up if other people are not doing the right thing.

I grew up with two parents who always stepped in when something was wrong.  My dad literally pulled his car up in the middle of a sidewalk, honking his horn, and flashing his lights, when he saw a teenager being hit by a group of teens.  My brother and I were in the backseat. We also witnessed him giving rides to old women at the supermarket who were walking down the street, barely able to walk, much less carry their groceries.

My mother would jump out of the car in a second when she saw a person trying to steal a parking space from an elderly person.  When she saw our 82 year-old neighbor wandering down the street in her nightgown and slippers, on her way to "find mama" on a Saturday morning, my mother walked her back inside, called her niece in another state, and began to cook meals for her 3 times a day until a full-time nurse could come.  When any kid in her first grade class came to school in November without a coat, she came home and packed up bags of our clothes and coats.

I grew up with parents who stood up for other people and who took care of their neighbors.  It was not enough to exist. 

So as this tragedy unfolds, it is up to us to decide on what we can do as individuals to spread love. 

It is not enough to feel sad. 

It is not enough to feel awful for the parents and families of everyone affected. 

What will you personally do to contribute more love to the world? Will you give blood? Will you write your congressperson? Will you speak out? Will you have a conversation with someone else? Will you get to know someone who is different from you? How can we prevent ourselves from being bystanders when injustice strikes?