a couple of thoughts on the world today.

Today I sent these goofballs off to third and first grade, respectively. These two don't get enough credit for all they do around the house, and having them in school will be a difficult transition for all of us--especially the babies--because they just add so much light, imagination, laughter and craziness to our daily routine. Without them, I swear my babies just look at me like I'm chopped liver, which I sort of am some days.

As I watched them hop out of the van and walk confidently into their elementary school, a piece of my heart sank--as it always does--at the beginning of each school year, knowing that not only will I miss the added joy they bring to our home but also that I cannot be with them everyday to protect them from any danger. As much as I love public school, I do not find it a safe place anymore.

In fact, I don't find many places safe anymore. I find myself shying away from big events such as concerts, parades, sporting events because you just never know what could happen. Obviously if the special event is something I've been dreaming of seeing/doing, then I can be persuaded out of of my fear, but for the most part, I don't like being in uncertain places.

I sound paranoid. I'm not. I promise. But I realize I sound like I am. Oh well.

On my walk with Blue tonight I thought of a phrase in The Book of Mormon that always remains in the back of my mind. I remember I was in Argentina when I felt the words first jump out at me. As a quick background of The Book of Mormon, it is a book of scripture, written anciently by prophets in the Americas. Tandem with the Bible, which I read almost daily, it helps me come to know Jesus Christ better.

But back to that particular phrase. In addition to spiritual guidance, the Book of Mormon also details the history of two different civilizations--their ups and downs, their strengths and weaknesses, and their wars against each other. Near the end of the book, the final prophet, Moroni, writes of the destruction of his people. He is alone and hiding from the people of the other civilization so as to stay alive. Describing his people (who were supposed to be the good guys), Moroni writes that they were a people "without civilization."

I had read this phrase a number of times before it stood out to me in Argentina, but I happened to read it the day after I heard of rioting in a well-known town below Buenos Aires. George W. Bush was visiting the country, and the Argentines of the area were not happy with his visit, so they burned most of the main drag by throwing torches through store windows and lighting fire to cars and buildings all over the place. The damage was tremendous. I saw the pictures in a newspaper that our neighbor had on his kitchen table. I was appalled. I couldn't believe something like this could happen, and then I remembered that phrase: a people "without civilization." And it hit me, they were no longer acting like humans, they were acting like animals, without regard for anyone or anything.

I remember saying a prayer that night, thanking God that riots weren't usual in the United States.

But now they are. Riots are normal now. People aren't considerate of others. Kindness is waning, especially where the roots of racism run deep. Not only are we fighting racism in our own communities, but we also have to be aware of imminent threats of terrorism, which has become so imbedded in the society that it's hard to be sure who is good and who is bad. It feels crazy. It really does.

I try to teach my kids kindness and respect. Believe me--we have had our fair share of difficult discussions; my kids do not live in a bubble. But I do not want them to live in fear, so I put on a brave front and do my best to smile as I let them walk away from me and into a school where I cannot be to protect them. I also don't want them to grow up thinking certain people act a certain way or are a certain way. I did not grow up that way, and I am doing my best to instill in them a way of seeing everyone in the best light possible. Whether someone else is a different race, religion, gender, etc., I try to help them find common ground. And we talk about the uncommon ground too because I would rather them be open about their questions with me than forming an incorrect opinion without all the facts.

We talk a lot about facts, but we also talk a lot about feelings. I think this is perhaps what is missing in society today. Everyone wants all the facts, and they aren't really concerned about the feeling aspect. You see it with religion. You see it in politics. You see it in the news. You see it everywhere. But what if we go back to feeling love for one another, and what if we go back to hoping that God is real and is actually watching all the craziness happen, and what if we go back to desiring the best for our neighbor. Wouldn't the world be a better place? Wouldn't our homes?

I guess my biggest fear these days is that people will lose themselves and become as the people of The Book of Mormon--without civilization. I am doing my part to fight this. Are you?

(On a side note: In an effort to be more neighborly, we invited our entire street over to our house for dinner this weekend. We were overwhelmed by the turnout. Every single family we invited came. Tim snapped this picture of our neighbors mingling and getting to know each other. I truly believe people want to and can be kind--sometimes they just need a little nudge in the right direction.)

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley