Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times.
Like many of you, I spent Friday evening reading through various news accounts and scrolling through the #Paris trending topic on Twitter. I wrestled with the questions of how to explain such evil and destruction to my kids. How do you describe holy war, suicide bombings, and hate so powerful that it would willingly terminate the lives of hundreds of people in less time than it would take to drink an eggnog latte from a solid red Starbucks holiday cup? How can you possibly make sense of such tragedies in a form understood by an eleven your old who thinks everyone deserves to be loved regardless of who they are, how they look, or what they believe?
When he asked, "Why would anyone ever do something like that?" he demonstrated a special kind of wisdom only kids possess. It takes a childlike sense of wonder to see the world as it should be and not as it is. This youthful wisdom views the world as vibrant and filled with infinite possibilities. Human depravity and the capability to cause unfathomable atrocities does not fit into such optimistic world views.
Reality knows there are answers to my son's question. But none of them are good answers. None of the answers are logical. No amount of reasoning can justify the actions of these jihadists. For that, I am thankful. I am glad my son can see the worst humanity has to offer and still refuse any explanation as acceptable.
My heart is broken for the city of Paris. And not just for the French people, but also for the victims of Friday's bombings in Beirut and Baghdad.
However, I also feel hopeful. If my son wields the maturity to reject the lure of hate that has trapped and consumed so many people, then there must be more kids like him. And if there are other kids like him, then there are parents like me. We are raising children who believe in the power of peace and everyone's right to live.
These kids are our next generation. If we can nurture these better aspects of their nature, they will change the world. We could raise an army to drown out these voices of discontent - not with guns or warfare but with love and respect.
Now that gives me hope.