There are all kinds of ways to love. There are all kinds of people to love. I guess if I’m decent at anything in life, it’s being open to love and all its designs, and being fortunate to love some of the most stellar spirits imaginable. That’s why I can’t wait to share what this photo means to me. It means my hope for the future. Through she’s not my flesh and blood, she’s wriggled her way into the core of my soul. I was there, with my camera, when newborn Sophia was barely able to cry. I got to watch her grow up, from a shy, observant little girl into a curious, confident woman of 20. The time between wasn’t all sunshine and sugar. She’s one of those rare gems, loved by a village, with a mother who raised her to be who she was meant to me, celebrated her uniqueness, honored her fanatical determination and courage. Sophia is wise and opinionated, she’s hysterically witty. And she’s beautiful beyond words, outwardly, yes, but inwardly, HELL, YES. If you’re ever fortunate enough to spend hours listening to her thoughts about life, you’ll find your spirit and mind stretched in directions you didn’t realize were possible. She’s fiercely loyal to those she loves. And I’m indescribably fortunate that she sees something in me worth investing her heart. Oh, and her jokes make me laugh for days after we’ve parted. Sophia and her generation have the world in the palms of their hands. Think of a snow globe. I expect her to shake us for all we’re worth, toss us high, and catch us before we shatter. And when Sophia’s magic settles, I believe the world will be more bold, brilliant, and we’ll all be more open to the power that created the world in the first place…love in all its transformative splendor.
Buckle up my dear readers. My advice to myself has always been to write when I’m hot and edit once I’ve cooled down. But after this weekend’s attack on the innocent, my temperature is just not dropping.
My skin is Danish white and pink. I have two children whose skin is African brown and black. To me, all we are is family. (The photo is of two of my sons.) But to others, looking from the outside in, we’re something different. There are actually people who have said and done things to threaten me for mothering these stellar boys. Mostly, I just let it roll.
I’m done with rolling because this isn’t about how I’m treated. It’s about how my sons and millions and millions of others are treated. Is there a way to stop the hatred? Is there a cure for racism? The easy answer is love. The hard answer is love.
Babies aren’t born with the ability to hate. It has to be nurtured and nourished. One generation teaches hatred and so goes the cycle. I keep hearing, “How could this happen in our country?” It happened because enough loving people didn’t stand up to the hating people. It happened because it feels safer to stay quiet. To stay home.
My outrage and pain sought solace in a call to my congressman. Add disappointment to my list of churning emotions. Frustration, too. I attended a rally to listen to voices that quivered in the very emotions surging through me. But I didn’t find any solutions.
Then I came home to my youngest son needing a ride to football. And news that my other son just got a job promotion. I scoured the kitchen and bought a gallon of white pain to perk things up around our house. We read stories from people who live with violence every day. We talked about those stories and talked to some of those people.
I found myself asking the same question: What can I do?
“Just live the love. Do what you’re doing.”
That answer seemed so small and flimsy.
I wanted to stand on a pinnacle and shout the words that would change hearts.
Foolish me. Martin Luther King Jr. and a host of others, far more poignant and profound than me, have done that and will continue to do so.
The only way I’m going to affect change in this country and the world, is to live love within the walls of my own home. To speak words that edify and educate. To stand with those who have been knocked down. To not stay still or stay quiet, but to use resources carefully and constructively. To pay attention, seek awareness, and attend to what needs attending to.
Love needs attending to. If love is there, there’s no room for racism and all its ugly relatives.
My little part is to make sure that my children know the power of love is always, always stronger than the force of hatred. I’m not positing that hated can’t plow into the innocent and claim carnage. We all know that happens. What it means is that hatred cannot steal what it cannot touch. It cannot touch the love I have for my sons. It cannot diminish the value of my diverse community. It cannot suffocate a spirit that is fueled from within. Love provides its own kindling. Hatred has to be fed externally. Think about that, will you?
So while the situation might feel helpless, it’s not. And our little parts aren’t really so little after all.