Growing up in suburban America in the late sixties, and seventies, I felt fairly safe. As the terror was spinning and growing in the world around us, my friends and I , were untouched, for the most part.
I was two when President Kennedy was killed, so I don’t remember it. I have faint memories of watching Apollo 11 land on the moon in the summer of 1969, on our small black and white television set. I was seven. But, the next year, when the Kent shootings occurred, I must have been shielded, because I don’t have any memories of it. Even in 1975, when the Vietnam War ended, at thirteen, I remember being happy, but no big deal. I just wasn’t affected.
Aside from my time with my friends, which provided a wonderful distraction to reality, my world consisted of a lot of internal conflicts within my family. Perhaps, that is why I am so passionate about what happens my world, not just my personal world. Because if you really think about it, what happens in our world, affects our personal world! We are global citizens, and should step outside our own existential existence, and contribute towards a peaceful change.
Now for a minute, imagine being a child of seven, or eight, trying to live your life, and only knowing death, and destruction at every turn. Every time you go outside, you are in critical danger of dying. The children of Palestine have endured this for sixty years. They have watched the devastation of their homes, families, and lives on a daily basis. As well as war torn Sudan, that has been in a state of emergency since 2003. Or most recently, Syria. We have seen Syrians fleeing their native land to Europe in record numbers. Some have thought, the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Syrian children watching their families, and friends being killed by bombs, or drowning after abandoning their bombed out towns. As a caring human being, I only have to look into their eyes, to see their pain. But, I cannot really feel it. I have not experienced what they have. I have seen images, but have not experienced being in a war zone. Or, the panic of having to risk my life to survive. I can only sympathize.
We felt the closest to this during and after the 9/11 attacks. The uncertainty, panic, and devastation was felt all across this country. But, mainly by those that were effected personally. My children knew what was happening because of our age of social media. I am thankful that we did not live in one of the areas where the attacks occurred. But, I made sure to involve my kids, and try to make it real for them, so that they will understand the severity of the dangers of this world that they live in.
But, as I was shielded by my parents to the cruelties of our western society, I feel that our children don’t appreciate what is happening in our world. I think that now more than ever, our children are shielded from the real dangers that people are facing globally, and that they will face. One would think that because we now live in a very communicative world, they would be aware. But, for so many of the children growing up in this age of global dissemination of information, they are still so isolated.
They are isolated because of media influences, the quick action to violence brought about by racism, fueled by ignorance. Over indulgence of materialism, and constant, accepted forms of corruption, greed, and discrimination that we see everyday in the social media platforms has desensitized them to what is real, and important if we are ever to attain peace for our planet.
It is sad to think that we would have to be in the midst of a war zone to feel for our fellow human beings. And, it is so contradictory that so many of poor America or Europe sides with the elite. If anything, children that grow up without a lot of advantages should be more sympathetic to the plight of children that live in countries torn apart by terrorism.
As a parent, I see what is being taught to children, in our schools and what is projected by the media. And, I worry. I worry that if we keep going in this direction, our future generations will never know peace, will never have empathy for other living beings, and will ultimately be the destruction of our very existence.
If people are only enraged by the terrorism that touches us personally, there is something wrong! We should be enraged by any act of terrorism, anywhere. We need to become united globally. We need to care about all humans on our planet. We need to see black and white, good and evil….because when it comes to a single life, there can be no gray area.