As footsteps of fleeing fathers, mothers, toddlers wind their way in and out of the news headlines—their wearied journeys appearing on our screens with a click and disappearing as quickly—we are so close and so far from chaos. As nations count and meet their quotas, black and white numbers on lists replace warm bread on tables and cool water to lips. And, people—people whose lives are in every hand but their own—are such inconveniences.
When the shadows of our own neighbors flit against pavements designed for friendly walks, shared garden patches and skipping rope games, we consider some pleasant—for their laughing, symmetrical lines—and yet others we call haunting for their looming breadth, their ‘othered’ shapes, for their unevenness. We push these shadows back, far back, because they make us uncomfortable and the shade they bring takes away from our long-enjoyed time in the sun.
Some voices trumpet louder and stronger than others because money and power, anger and fear are easier to spout than reckless love and unconditional compassion and so, poison finds its way into blood that pumps with the same warmth—and turns it so cold.
The cracks we all walk over seem to widen by the day, the fault lines making us afraid, and it is in this world that we raise new humans.
It is in this world that little fingers are being taught to grasp and to share, to throw stones and to be gentle. In this world, chubby little legs are trying out new heights, sometimes making them and sometimes not, with tears flowing freely and daily and hourly.
Today—we are teaching the tomorrows and this world is the classroom.
How easy it is to wish for a cleaner, more sanitized classroom. One that doesn’t have the muck of hostility piling up in every corner, the smell of bigotry hovering at nose-level and the smears of judgement and greed across every window. One that we wish there was a lock to—to make sure nothing else gets in—or out.
But raising new humans doesn’t mean “out with the old, in with the new.” It means the new will be placed in the middle of it all. It means that the new will stand next to that which is dying and fermenting and be asked to bring it back to life.
The new will be asked to hold the globe in their hands and treat it with gentleness, selflessness.
The new will be handed a country and will have to choose which man-made walls must come down and then do the crushing.
The new will be offered a city and be given the chance to erase red lines written by the powerful and instead give the powerless the bold colorful markers.
The new will be placed in families to teach them that unadulterated acceptance, unquenched love are the rules to live by.
As footsteps and shadows frighten us, our hope cannot be for a new classroom.
Our hope cannot be for a haven from the chaos.
Our hope cannot be a shelter from the mortar-fire.
Our hope must be that we are raising new humans in the midst of chaos and teaching them to make different, softer footprints, to forge new, equal paths and to believe that this world—their classroom—belongs to everyone.
Our hope must be that we are raising new humans—that will be better than us.