LAURA: My dear daughters,
The world is really scary right now. It seems like everywhere we turn there is heartbreak and violence and ugliness. Although I want to shield you from it for now, I know that I can’t protect you forever. I’d love to give you the tools to make sense of it, but the truth is I don’t know how. I can’t make sense of it either.
I remember being little and seeing all the injustice in the world and feeling really overwhelmed by it. I don’t know that much has changed. We grownups can’t seem to figure things out any more than we could when we were children.
The world is not fair, my dears, and it is important that you know that you are not powerless to face that unfairness. Some of that unfairness has benefited you and me.
It is easy to sit in a safe place and weep for those who have less. It is much harder to get uncomfortable and stand up for others who are being bullied or oppressed.
We talked about this recently when I watched you play with someone who was bullying another little girl. That behavior doesn’t change when you grow up. Sometimes it is harder because the bullies are governments and people with a lot more power than we have. It’s important to find others who will stand next to you and work with you to help end oppression.
I hope that you will never give up your power to anyone or anything else, though. The moment someone wants to use your energy for something that hurts another person, you should walk away. Most of us are doing the best we can. You, too, will sometimes make mistakes in how you use your power, so be kind to those who are misusing theirs. Don’t participate in it though.
Never forget that everyone you meet is a person. I hope I can teach you to understand when dehumanizing language is being used. Other people are not objects and they are not animals. It is an act of violence to class people like that. You need to stand up against that. I hope I am teaching you by example. Where I fail, I hope you will find other people to teach you.
It is important that you listen to other people. Everyone has a story. Ask questions, learn what they’ve been through, get to know them well enough that you can practice compassion for them. This is what love looks like. Even when you think someone is wrong, there is a reason for it. Understanding their story will help you build bridges and disagree with kindness.
Remember that people are more important than things and people are more important than beliefs. Stand up for people. Care more about what you do than about what you believe.
Right now we are used to a world where everything revolves around violence. You may be tempted to use violence to get your way, to end injustice, to enforce equality. There may be times where this really is called for. Be so very careful, though, that you don’t overuse this tool. It is rarely the best first option.
It is far more radical to make change through love, patience, understanding, and kindness. This takes longer. It’s the harder road, the one less traveled. There is not always time for that. Where there is, though, this is the kind of change that lasts. It’s the one that rewrites stories and cultures so that we never repeat old mistakes.
I hope by the time you hit adulthood, the world is a kind, gentle place. However, so much of our culture is deeply entrenched and I think it will take a long time to heal wounds and rewrite stories to make it so. In the meantime, I can make the world around me kinder and gentler and hopefully raise you to do the same.
We are each responsible for that.
I want you to know how important it is to reach beyond yourselves and be aware that of how far reaching your sphere actually is.
When it gets to be too much, too scary, too sad, I’m here, working alongside you. I won’t tell you not to worry about it. I won’t tell you to only sweep your own porch. I won’t tell you to not be angry or hurt or sad about it. I will tell you all those feelings are okay, to take some time to rest, and to take care of yourself. Pick your battles wisely.
Build friendships. Have people in your life who will help you take care of yourself, too. You cannot be a martyr and you might need someone to remind you of that. I know you, both of you. You are so gentle and so fierce and so caring. You need people who will walk with you and let you be all of those things.
I can’t promise you a better world. I can promise you that I’ll keep working to create one. And I will try to give you the tools to do the same.
You have taught me how to be kind, patient, and gentle. You have taught me that I was stronger than I knew. You remind me to practice compassion and love. I hope I can help you teach the world the same.
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