Back when my kids were little, my biggest worry was that they’d choke on a marble. Then they started walking to school, and every time I watched them disappear around the corner, a not-so-tiny part of me worried they wouldn’t come back. Then came bikes, then cars, then airplanes and who knows what else when I’m not looking. The worries only get bigger, all the bad things that could happen scarier.
This is not a post about how to handle those fears. In fact, if you know the answer, please tell me, because my best solution is to try not to think of all the ways things can take a turn for the worst. One thing I do know for sure is that, if you think about them too much, your fears will make you crazy.
But fears aren’t reality, and physical safety isn’t the only danger kids face. What about bullies? What about injustice and intolerance? What about heartbreak?
Without throwing my daughter’s business into the big, wide world, let me just say that someone in a position of authority disappointed her. Big time. And it broke my heart to see how much this person’s careless actions broke hers.
I can teach my kids to keep their fingers out of the sockets. I can teach them to not run into traffic and about stranger danger. But I can’t unbreak my daughter’s heart, and that kills me. The only thing I can do is help her deal with this disappointment, because here’s another thing I know for sure: this won’t be the first time.
I’ve written before about how feminine stories focus on relationships and connection, while masculine stories focus on identity and alienation. American culture in particular tends to be masculine, and to devalue feminine concerns—the kind of struggles we find in romance and women’s fiction.
Romance novels are about people who want opposite things, yet manage to come together and resolve their differences in a way that leaves them both satisfied, happy, and on the path to lasting love.
The world needs more stories like that.
The events in Paris last week are more proof that there isn’t enough love in the world. The masculine value of competition, where one person wins and another loses, has a place in business and sports. But when it comes to people, whether on an individual or international level, we need more understanding. We need to work harder to build relationships and resolve our differences amicably.
The best time to stop terrorism is before young people become radicalized, before they become so disaffected that they believe violence is the best answer. That means listening to ideas that differ from our own and incorporating them into our world view. It means tolerating things we disagree with. It means working together to find solutions that create a bigger pie, rather than trying to grab the biggest piece for ourselves.
Life isn’t a competition. We’re all in it together, and no one gets out alive. We’re happier when we celebrate and enjoy each other’s differences rather than letting them divide us.
I’ve quoted this saying before, but it bears repeating: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
What are you doing to create more love in the world?
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