As a mother I have asked myself, “What do children most need from the adults around them?” Not just us as parents, but from all the adults they interact with throughout their daily lives. What is it that they are looking for from us, which will let them grow up and live their lives boldly, courageously, and with meaning?
Love, security, acceptance? Of course. These are all things that I wish for every child.
But when I watched the award-winning documentary “5 Broken Cameras” one line really jumped out at me. The Palestinian cameraman Emat Burnat, in describing a gentle giant of man whom the kids had nicknamed El-Phil, the elephant, said, “I think kids like him because they see a lot of hope in him, which is not easy to find in adults.”
And it made me think about what children see in the eyes of the adults around them, especially those growing up in conflicts like the one in Israel and Palestine. Even in more peaceful societies life whittles away at the openness and innocence we are born with. The little hurts and disappointments that stack up over time; the big hurts and disappointments that cut us to the quick; the daily pressures of work, paying bill, and family responsibilities. If we’re not careful we lose the aliveness we were born with, our dreams for the future. We lose our hope and children see it in our eyes. And how much stronger that must be in countries at war.
It was my parents who made me in to a peace activist. Their Christian theology spoke of universal love and of Jesus as the champion of the oppressed. In the 1980s they took me to demonstrations against nuclear weapons and against the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction; my first arrest was with them. But it was the elderly Quaker women we were demonstrating with and arrested with who taught me that life can be lived without giving up. They held the hope. These white-haired women in their seventies and eighties, with eyes blazing against social injustice, still fighting for peace. I learned from them that you can be as alive and as passionate at 80 as you can at 18 and 8. What a gift! I still talk about them, and now blog about them. They have never left me and their hope lives within me.
So it is these women I honour today. And the women who have become grandmothers, and will become grandmothers (of their own grandchildren or of society’s) and who still care enough to fight for peace and against social injustice. If I live that long myself, I’m looking forward to being white-haired and fiery-eyed and to never giving up.
THIS BLOG IS PART OF THE 2013 GRANDMOTHER POWER BLOGGING CAMPAIGNThe photo on Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign is Rachel Kaufman, the founder of Creativity for Peace.