I'm trimming the fat this week. Whittling down every professional, household, parenting, and writing item on my list down to the bare minimum. The act itself is liberating, the results are life-changing, and the fallout is gut-wrenching.
My son asked last night what "Gaza means and what does it have to do with Russia and Ukraine." I turned off NPR and turned to face him. I wrote a master's thesis on this exact topic, but his frontal lobe will not allow for that depth of explanation. "The governments of Russia, Gaza, and Gaza's neighbor Israel all want more land to themselves. They don't want to let the people who live there to be there anymore."
"So the governments are bullies?" he asked.
"Yes." That's exactly it. And we moved on to talking about dragon wings.
Earlier in the day I was in a meeting with my son's teachers and a group of parent volunteers. Things aren't going well in the classroom due to a variety of reasons, many kids are having hardcore meltdowns, grades are down, teachers are down. So we asked them what they needed. Turns out they needed us to listen, to hold space while they wept with physical pain and frustration. They needed help. So we organized, sent out SignUpGenius schedules and Amazon wishlists--the bakesales of the post-pandemic academic scene. Instead of yelling about what our kids needs are aren't getting, we listened.
I'm not writing this to pay myself on the back. I'm really wondering what it would be like if we listened to each other instead of yelling. Not sure how that would play out in the political theaters, maybe egos are too over-developed to make much of a difference, but at least existence for those of us not living in the middle of violent conflicts would have more capacity to keep calm and hold space for those who are hurting. Maybe. At least it would whittle down the worldwide roar of anger that seems to permeate every space humans occupy. It's louder than the freeway outside my window as I write this.
There's got to be a better way.