Monday, May 2, 2011

Ten years

"This isn't a day to go to a bar. It's a day to go to church." - Chris Matthews

As we watched the news last night, both Mark and I came away a bit disturbed. The flag waving, screaming, wild-eyed frenzy seemed out of place among death, even the death of a monster, and we turned off the TV and went to bed shaking our heads.

Today, it's still on my mind, and I can't escape one fact: The age of the participants outside the White House and Ground Zero. For the most part, they were young people - college students and recent graduates. Ten years doesn't seem all that long ago to me. I was already an adult, living my life, aware of the danger in the world but still painfully reminded on September 11, 2001.

These kids, though.....they were between 7 and 12. Old enough to know what was going on, old enough to be frightened by the sudden possibilities in the world, but not old enough to have the skills to process what was going on. These kids, scared and confused, were sat down by their parents and told that a very bad man flew planes into a building and killed thousands of people. Did they ever really grow beyond that idea? It's not that it's not true, but when a child is suddenly and unfairly confronted by evil in the world, I'd imagine it would be easy to seek a simple explanation, and to make one focus point the repository for all of the evil that they saw. For a 10 year old, yeah, that's appropriate. But how about for a 20 year old? Did we adults fail them by not helping them grow into a more broad explanation of what happened? Did we stop talking about it right around the time they really needed us to start?

It made me a little sad to see all of the young faces waving flags and cheering outside the White House, but not because Bin Laden is dead. It made me sad for the world they were forced to come to age in, and who these young people have become because of it.


Ruth and Bryce said...

You raise some very interesting questions, Kate. I have had many of the same thoughts, and it really has made me think about how we will talk to our kids about terrorism/foreign affairs in general. Great essay!

Poppy said...

I love this, Kate. Perfectly expressed.