I had a great childhood. It was everything a childhood should be. Carefree and fun. At least that is how I remembered it.
When I was 5, the song “We Are The World”, was released. Till this day I remember all the words to that song. I also remember the explanation given to me by my dance teacher on why the song was important. She told us that in other parts of the world many people didn’t have food. She told us that not everyone was as lucky as we were and it was important to help others. She went on to say that when bad things happen to others in the world, it brings everyone together through the help and good things we do. Now, this was over 30 years ago (yikes!) and I can’t say I remember if she elaborated on the 1983-85 famine in Ethiopia or the aid that was sent there including food and clothing. But what I took away was I was lucky and that I should always help others in need.
My daughter is 5, the same age I was when I was introduced to “We Are The World”. And this world that we live in, the world that she’s growing up in, the world she will inherit, is a crazy and scary place. It makes me wonder how my own mother felt when I was 5. Did she worry about all the things I worry about for my own daughter? Did she wonder how to explain some of the world’s terrible events?
There is so much going on in today’s world that it’s hard enough for an adult to process and comprehend. Las Vegas. Texas. Puerto Rico. Terror Attacks. Natural disasters. Too many events to list. Every time news broke on the world’s latest tragedy, I thought about my daughter. How would I explain things like this to her? Was she too young or was she old enough where she should be aware? Of course I want her to be a child, enjoying the beautiful things life has to offer her. But as she gets older, I know she might hear and see things. So with the recent happenings of the past months, we’ve talked about how some times bad things happen. Sometimes there are bad people. Sometimes people get hurt. I’m met with “But why do bad things happen? Why are there bad people?”.
I tell her that I don’t know why these bad things happen or why there are people who want to hurt other people. I tell her that it’s when these bad things happen that she has an opportunity to show that she’s one of the good people. An opportunity to show she’s one of the people who want to help. And other people will want to stand up and help too. Unfortunately it sometimes takes something bad to happen to find the heroes that are among us. I tell her about the song “We Are The World”. She loves hearing stories about when I was her age. I repeat the lyrics I remember so well.
We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So lets start giving
I see her looking out across the room contemplating this. She nods quietly. I ask her if she has questions. She usually says no. When I ask her how she feels about what we talk about, she looks right at me and says
I want to be a hero. I want to make a brighter day.
And that’s where I leave the conversation. She doesn’t need to know all the horrible details or facts about these events. At least not now. What she does know is that if there is such thing as good and bad in the world, she wants to be good.
And what I know is that is the most important detail to me.