Teaching our children love and respect

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Lately, I have been trying to find a balance on the types of topics I post about. As you can imagine, writing about topics like race, ethnicity, language, and culture can sometimes be heavily charged with controversy, strong emotions and even politics. While I want this blog to be light-hearted and with a positive tone, I can’t come to terms with omitting or simply not writing about issues that are heavier and harder to digest. I would be disingenuous if I apologize for writing about these topics, because the truth is, as a society, we have to have more difficult conversations if we want to see progress.

For the past days since the attack in the Orlando night club, I have been struggling to process the news. Like so many people, I find myself feeling a mix of emotions from deep sadness for the victims and their families, to anger and frustration with the fact that these “lone-wolf” shootings seem to be occurring more often and each time taking more innocent lives. Perhaps what has been most difficult to comprehend is how one individual can harbor so much hate and homophobia to justify taking someone’s life. What amount of bigotry can justify taking not one, but 49 lives?

Just when we think we are moving forward as a nation, we get a cold and unnecessary reminder that there is still a lot of fear and phobia towards those deemed to be “different” from societal norms and boxed identities. I don’t want to think about it, but my brain immediately wonders who will be next. If the color of your skin, the language you speak, the God you worship, or the people you love make you a target of senseless hatred, then no one is safe. If we are turning to guns rather than words to resolve our problems, then we are not really accomplishing much. If we stand up to defend the access to military-style assault weapons instead of defending the right to live and let others live, then what message are we sending our children about our priorities?

In the midst of these difficult times, I think of my sons and I’m reasserted of my conviction that we must continue to work hard to raise respectful, accepting, and loving individuals. Yes, the boys are still very young to understand what’s going on out there. But it doesn’t mean they are immune to the tragedy. We could have lost a family member, a friend, a loved one. And in the process of grieving, we would have had to explain the situation to our kids. We would have had to tell them that even though life is sacred, sometimes there are people who get lost in their journey and make irreparable mistakes.

But regardless of whether we are directly affected by the Orlando tragedy, we must talk to our children and teach them to love and respect life. As toddlers, we teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. We teach them to say please and thank you. We tell them that hitting is not acceptable and that sharing is a good thing. As they grow older, and begin to make their own decisions, our hope as parents is that they remember these first lessons. Perhaps the individual responsible for the massacre was lost in his journey. Maybe he forgot his parents’ lessons. Maybe he clung on to fanaticism to justify his fear and hatred. I have no words or excuses for his actions. I feel numb with sadness, but I refuse to succumb to the hatred and the bigotry. I refuse to normalize this attack as yet another shooting incident. I will continue to teach my children to love and respect life. To embrace difference rather than fear it. Because as Lin-Manuel Miranda beautifully put it, love is love is love is love is love is love and it cannot be killed or swept aside.

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