It was 24 years ago today that my baby girl Abby was born. (See her at right, in this recent photo with my husband Ben and me.)
It was a beautiful early fall day, much like today – blue sky, pleasant temperature, just about perfect. The doctors had warned me that if she didn’t show up on her due date, they were likely to try a little ‘encouragement’ – but she knew what she was doing: labor started on October 4, early in the morning, and at about 1:15 AM on October 5, Abby made her debut and everything in my life changed for the good.
So it is with so many children’s debuts into the world when, as Ysaye Barnwell and Sweet Honey and the Rock testify, “For each child that’s born, a morning star rises and sings to the universe who we are.” And the promise that our children are born with carries them into life: all the ‘firsts’ that they experience as babies and toddlers, the discoveries they make (who can forget the look on a small child’s face when they taste something like chocolate for the first time, or see a butterfly in the air?) They arrive with hope and with optimism, and if they are lucky, they are raised to embody love and care for others as their companions.
Each time a tragedy occurs in our society – as we have seen again with the Las Vegas massacre – I wonder what it is that we tell these children of ours. How do we explain the madness of an individual but more than that, how do we explain a society that refuses to pass legislation that would make it more difficult for individuals who are bent on killing, to purchase guns or gizmos that turn hand guns into rapid fire destruction machines? How do we hold on to a point of view that says that we should “Be kind in all we do,” or that “Each person is important,” when actions of violence don’t support that statement?
It is a tough world out there – increasingly so, in my assessment – yet here we are, living on the big blue bubble, holding on to the idea that we are here as Unitarian Universalists to build a fair and peaceful world, and to believe that we all are good people who can help to change our world for good.
I can’t say that I’ll stop telling children I educate these things, these fondly-held hopes. But I will also recognize that our behaviors increasingly belie our beliefs and our statements. Somehow, somewhere, we need to find a way to live our values and make them real.
Today, I’m celebrating Abby’s birthday. I want to celebrate your children’s birthdays, too…and the birthdays and weddings of people I never met, honoring the hopes their parents hold for them, and the promise they carry with them to make the world beautiful and good. I don’t know, but I keep holding on to the belief that if we all join together in pushing for the gun legislation that might make our world safer, then in the end, enough people will wake up, and recognize that more guns, more violence, will not solve our problems. Now that would be a day to remember.
Deb Weiner, Interim Director of Religious Education