Tuesday, January 18, 2011

teaching peace

Yesterday, Joey woke up with a very clear mission.
In Denver every year there is a march on Martin Luther King Day.  Every year  of his childhood, and every year that he has been in Denver, Joey has been at that march.
Yesterday he wanted to honor the day with the girls.  He searched for some way to serve, or to listen, or to celebrate.  It came down to a few possibilities, and when the moment came to decide, the girls were not at their best.
There was an event right here in town at a local synagogue.  At noon, people would be reading from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, and there would be an interfaith celebration of the day.  But Sadie wouldn't have it.  She wanted to stay in her nightgown, or to do something fun.  We told Sadie about the march in Denver that was so important to Daddy, and she said, "I'd do that!  That's more fun than going to a synagogue!"  Joey put his head in his hands, and we sat there feeling like bad parents.  At least I did.  I think Joey just felt bad.  And we talked about service, and how important it is--how many people in our own community need help.  "There's no one homeless here!"  Sadie shouted.  I could see the complicated things running around in her almost-eight-year-old brain.  "There are,"  I told her.  "You just don't see them."
The truth is that we live in a pretty affluent community, and skin doesn't come in too many shades around here.  Since I've been working at Town Hall and trying to make sure that we're looking out for everyone, I've noticed that it's easier to think that there's no one who's hungry or homeless in a little town like ours--it's just not as obvious as it might be in a city.  Sometimes the services suffer even though people really need them, maybe partially because the issues aren't in everyone's face all the time.  The issues are not where my children can usually see them.

Noon came and went.  And things shifted a little, and we all sat upstairs on the bed and watched the "I have a dream" speech on YouTube.  And then Joey's sister called-- she was on her way to the march in Denver with her two kids, and I think Joey expressed some of his sadness and frustration over the morning.  He came downstairs and his face was clear and open, and he said that his sister had brought up a good point.

Sometimes we support, we serve, we face adversity through creating art.  The girls filled the table with art supplies, and for the next few hours, they made art.

I'm not saying we found a solution.  But we moved forward, from stubbornness and crying to making art with Dr. King's words in our heads.  It's something.  But it continues to be a moment we work on--how do we teach gratefulness?  And service?  And peace? 


  1. god, that's a tough one. We currently live in Western MA but we are from NYC, and we are moving back to NYC. My kids will get more exposure to those issues there, for sure.
    But for you... if the homeless or downtrodden are hidden from view, then you need to bring your daughter to them. How about volunteering at a soup kitchen or a womens' shelter? I think almost-8 is old enough. I remember delivering meals on Thanksgiving morning through Equinox (in Albany) and seeing the big Thanksgiving dinner that Equinox laid out for the homeless at a local church, when I was that age.
    Service is such an integral part of being Jewish-- kavannah and tikkun olam and all that.

  2. Trust me girl, your kids have more culture in their pinky toes then a lot of families I know:) and a lot of love too... And two fantastic parents:)