Yesterday my post Divide and Conquer discussed aspects of racism in our society. After more thought I realized I was not finished. As parents and concerned adults, how do we go about teaching our children how to survive in the world without instilling fear? For the most part, our world is relatively safe but we owe it to our children to educate them about dangerous elements and ways to navigate safely. We tell them to not speak to strangers, to not open the door while we are gone, to look both ways before crossing a street. We warn them that bad things can happen and when we don’t tell them,the media does. As a society we hear of crime and mayhem almost on a daily basis. We know of home invasions, drive-by shootings, school shootings and now ebola. Are we as a society to live and teach our children there is a boogeyman around every corner? Being a world traveler, I am aware that one must be cautious. I am observant, keep my belongings close and map out where I am going before I leave my hotel. However, am I so busy being on guard that i forget to relax? Yesterday in the streets of Buenos Aires I ignored a hungry little boy. He appeared by my side as I snacked at an outside table. He muttered something in spanish which I did not immediately understand. Thinking it was a scam or an attempt to grab my purse, I shooed him away. I was in protection mode. As he left, i felt a sinking feeling and wished for his return. I had let the fear of a boogeyman make me inhuman and afraid. Fortunately, he returned and I asked if he was hungry. The child took the piece of bread and went off into the night.
Our fear causes us to avoid others, to avert our gaze in hopes we will not be in caught up in their lives or share their pain. We do it to our homeless population every day. We become immune to the suffering. We are not bad people but we have become afraid and our innocence is gone. I don’t know if that is good or bad or merely a fact but it does not insulate us it freezes our heart.