Tonight started out as most Sunday nights around my house do--cooking dinner and setting the table for a family meal. This was to be a birthday dinner for my son, and he helped plan the menu. Hot dogs, hamburgers, roasted potatoes, baked beans, and a cookie cake for dessert. Of course, no carb loading here!
My brother joined us and the kids piddled around the house, finishing chores before getting ready for bed as I tried to watch my favorite show, Law and Order Criminal Intent. Of course, I couldn't HEAR it, because of the kids, but such is the life of a mother.
As the kids visited with my brother I flipped over to Celebrity Apprentice. I was just about to watch Star Jones verbally attack Nene in front of Donald Trump and that fantastic toupee when it switched to the news. A major story like this always makes my heart catch in my throat--has there been an attack on our president? Some sort of major disaster?
Of course, if you're reading this, you know none of the above are true. Osama Bin Laden, enemy number one of our country, has been killed and his body taken into American custody. Supposedly his DNA has been matched as well, although the president didn't comment on that. What he did say was how long they had worked for this, how hard they had worked for this, and how aware he was of the suffering of so many Americans due to this one man.
I have heard people say that it would have been better for him to be taken alive; however, I have no doubt that even if this had been possible he would have killed himself in custody--major martyrdom issues for his cause. But I have a hard time imagining how a man who has eluded capture for the better part of ten years could effectively be captured alive. I'm convinced he was well surrounded by guards and intelligence of his own. We just got lucky.
I have listened to my friends speak about this and share a gamut of emotions from frustration at not seeing bin Laden face trial to celebrating his death. As I stated to a friend, Obama bin Laden has been riding on the backs of good people across this world for long enough and it finally caught up to him. If there is a hell, I'm sure he's burning in it.
So what does this have to do with an early childhood board? I think it has to do with hope. Hope that our children can grow up in a world that encourages more respect for other cultures. Hope that peace is brought into our world, even if just a tiny bit, tonight. As I reflected over life just a week ago on Easter Sunday, I became intensely aware of how difficult it can be to find peace within oneself, much less as you reach out among family, community, and country. Life becomes much more complicated. But as parents, when we tuck our children in at night, we pray for their peace and protection. We pray for God to hold them close throughout the night when we aren't there. We pray to keep away the monsters--the real monsters--that our children can only imagine but we know all too well. And if we're idealistic, really idealistic, we pray for peace. World peace.
We're all well aware of the joke involving beauty pageant contestants stating they want world peace. Dressed to the nines, filling out every last inch of their skintight gowns, they wave at us and tell us their one wish would be world peace. Most of us, knowing how complex and nearly impossible that wish is, laugh and snicker at their naivete. World peace? We live in a world with terrorists and human rights violations right on our own soil. We have troops around the globe and young men and women dying in two ongoing wars. We have given up many of our rights in favor of the supposed protection of something called the Patriot Act that has allowed our government to tap our phones, record our conversations, track our comings and goings, and even hold citizens for undefined periods of time if accused of certain crimes. We have given these up, all in desperation to regain our safety.
Tonight as I kiss my children goodnight I'm well aware that I could wake up tomorrow to experience backlash to the death of the leader of al-Qaeda. But I dare to dream that somehow between now and when my children are grown, they will learn lessons of respect, of kindness, of love that will help them to understand those that are different and appreciate those differences. Tonight, as I kiss them goodnight, I pray for their ability to follow the path Christ has laid out for them, to love thy neighbor as He has loved us. And with that kiss, I dare to believe in the impossible, in that which we scoff at, dressed in too much hairspray and too fancy dresses. I dare to believe in world peace for our children.
It may never happen, but the one thing I know for sure is that if we are convinced it won't happen, it never will. It doesn't hurt to believe.