I had no idea that just 3 years ago in the central heart of Virginia, Charlottesville was noted by the National Bureau of Economic Research as the happiest city in America. Crazy, huh? “Joy Town, USA” is what the Daily Progress called it. As of August 12, 2017, I would say, ‘joy’ in the once happy city of Charlottesville is at an all time low.
The last time my heart was this heavy was in the Fall of 2016 during the battle of Aleppo in Syria. Another bloodstain left on the fabric of humanity.
It’s hard to not feel hopeless. It’s hard to not feel like a bystander or the kid who’s on the team, but sadly rides the bench all season. It’s hard to not feel like sometimes the good in the world is not enough to overcome the shadows, which seems to be creeping into the light more and more these days.
As heartbreaking as these thoughts all may seem to us, I am also reminded that there is hope. You see, we are not just riding the bench. We are not absent or helpless when it comes to fighting the good fight. Whether we are aware of it or not, many of us are in the trenches looking up at the stars, doing more than our fair share.
Ok, so we may not be carrying picket signs and protesting, or calling our representatives to tell them how we feel about the social issues of America. Some of us may not be blessed with the oratory skills and passion to spark a movement to initiate a big change, but make no mistake, there are heroes among us doing their part.
The heroes are parents. Not just any parent, but the ones who truly show their kids what love looks like. It’s always been my belief since I became a father in 2003 that if we want to see a better world, we have to raise better kids.
Viewing the protest over a dozen times, along with the car attack belted me with deep sadness. Not only because of the loss of Heather Heyer (My heart goes out to her family), or the others that were injured, but also because the attackers and protesters are folks who were taught how to hate. There is nothing natural about that kind of disrespect shown toward our brothers and sisters. We don’t come into the world with the stain of hatred in our hearts. That has to be taught and learned.
Parents, especially new ones, I want to encourage us all to continue to show our children, the future leaders and people of this country—what love looks like. Teach them about the power of words and how to use it to lift people up. Teach them about compassion and what it means to imagine oneself in another person’s shoes. Teach them about the beauty of kindness and how it could change a person’s life for the better. Better yet, show them. Show them how we are all connected and that it’s not just about our country, but our planet as well.
This is how we can make tomorrow better. If we don’t have kids of our own then show our nieces and nephews, or the students of our classrooms. Find ways to get involved with the youth. This is how we counterpunch hate. We do it by showing our kids what love looks like, so they can emanate that throughout their lives. Everyone has a role to play and every little bit counts. And to my fellow parents out there who do this already, I commend you for doing this day in and day out. To me, you are real life heroes.