Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bad News

Elected officials as corporate puppets, the longest war in American history, terrorism, gun violence, drone strikes, climate change. Any of you still reading? It's easy to want to look away, throw our hands in the air.

It's hard to contemplate the world that our children will inherit.

I remember Walter Cronkite in black and white voicing over horrific pictures of children whose bodies were distorted, ravaged by hunger. Stick legs carrying bloated stomachs. Arms too weak to swat the flies away from their faces. The eyes of the mothers were animated with anguish.

My father sat on the couch watching, too. The images didn't seem bother him like they did me. Looking back on it now, I think I misread his helplessness for callousness.


I asked him why their stomachs looked like they did. My father, the scientist, could answer that question. When I asked him why we let children die from hunger, the scientific method seemed to fail him.

"It's complicated."

I remember thinking that I would do better, if I were a grown-up.

That day, my father fell off the pedestal on which I had placed him. Sooner or later, all parents fall, like Icarus flying too close to the sun.

We are not invincible, like our children believe. Like we would like them to think. Like I believed my father was back then.

Right now, Claire is ignorant to the suffering of the world. I am her sun. She circles me confidently and predictably, like a planet.

She will come to expect answers one day. As she should. As we all do.

Really, I'm stuck with a question though. I ask myself the question that I posed to my father then; Why is it so complicated?

I can answer it the same way my father did...I don't know.


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16 comments:

  1. I think your father answered quite perfectly, because I too just don't know. And seriously just not sure how I will answer this one someday in the future to my two girls either.

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  2. I can't bear to watch the news. I never know what's going on because frankly it's too overwhelming. On being the answer giver, I know I am already inadequate. It starts easy, a simple answer to any question and they are on to the next thing. As they get older the answers they expect are not so easy, but they are still too young to know the truth. Try this one on for size, " why are all the flags at half-mast mommy?"

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  3. Makes me want to move to a secluded area with no internet, tv, radio or newspapers. I am struggling to answer howdoes the baby get out of your tummy let alone anything else.

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  4. Wow. This is a powerful post. I often think about how things will be different once my kids realize that the world is more complicated than I understand. My oldest (almost five) laughed the other day when I told her I didn't know everything. She thought that couldn't possibly be true. I was going to correct her, but then I realized that she needed to believe for just a bit longer that the world made sense.

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  5. I think if we have a "don't care and don't want to know" attitude, then we allow the problems like human trafficking and such to continue. If everyone does a little bit of good deeds (what they are able to do), those little bits add up. People are trying to do their part and sometimes it's as easy as buying a movie ticket. The slogan for the movie Not Today is, "Your ticket in is their ticket out." You can read more on my post at http://abooksandmore.blogspot.com/2013/04/two-events-not-to-be-missed.html

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  6. I stopped watching/reading the news basically after having children, but with a conscious choice about 4 years ago. It's brainwashing and to be able to focus living a positive, open, optimistic life and teaching my children to believe in humanity... well, that requires not being up on current affairs. If the balance in the news was more even, that might be a different story. Many more wonderful things are happening every day than bad ones. Progress is made, people are generous, love is shared. But those things don't make "the news."
    As an aside, Rachel, I just want to tell you how much I love your writing. Your grip on the reader lately is amazing! Better and better with every post. :) That's good news, isn't it?!

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  7. It is awful when we no longer have the answers. How about instead of it's complicated say ask your father. That way you get to remain on the side of light for a little longer?

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  8. Sometimes I think we do have the answers, but do we even want to admit it to ourselves? I remember the line from Terminator 2 - humans want to destroy themselves. There's so much anger and hate, dating all the way back to Bible times. As a former journalist, I don't really do more than check headlines anymore. It's just too much to bear. I like to focus on the news happening in our home.

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  9. This sounds horrible but I have a bubble. My kids learn about world incidents on a need to know basis! I would like them to be granted the same perks I had as a child...to feel safe and that the world is a good place. Watching the news...its hard to see how young children can do this. I will do my best to be sure that they can for as long as I can.

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  10. It is explicable that the world is filled with astonishing beauty and fathomless misery. I can't explain this to my son any better than my father explained it to me.

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  11. I'm with Christina here--there is no way to explain the evils of the world, but we CAN do even little things to make things better. Bringing a meal to a sick friend, offering to watch her kids...these little bits add up, maybe not on a grand scale, but to the person for whom they're done...AND to us. Because we all benefit from being a little better, don't we?

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  12. So true Rachel, so true! Now that my children are grown, I cringe at the world my future grandchildren will have to live in. The only hope, surety and constant I have is Jesus! Thanks for stopping by and linking up Rachel! Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Mother's Day

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  13. The older I get, the less I know or understand about the awful things, and the more I care.

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  14. Great post. I think sadly there comes a day when our kiids have to realise we don't have all the answers. I would teach them about charity and standing up for others, I would teach them that life isn't fair, but that they can make a difference, and I would tell them that I don't know.

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  15. Wonderful post! Life is so very complicated. I don't understand half of what's happening in our world anymore because I cannot imagine purposefully harming or hurting another human being. We have a tough job ahead of us. That's for sure.

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