When bad things happen it’s easy to feel helpless. Evil can be so senseless, so random, so wanton. It can feel impossible to do anything to prevent or remedy such pain. We want to take the pain and turn it into good by doing something. We donate money, we volunteer our time, we share photos with inspirational messages on Facebook. But sometimes it can feel like there’s nothing to do. It can feel like we’re powerless to do any good in the face of so much evil.
Over the last few years, since Adeline was born, I’ve felt particularly impotent. Sure, I can share the pictures and donate money, but I can’t do much more. I have friends who booked flights to Boston right away, to be there and serve, to help in any way they could. I watched them go and wished that I could do the same. If only I could take some action to relieve this feeling of helplessness. But I can’t. I have a daughter to care for and at this young age, she needs me so much that I can’t do anything but provide for her.
As a mother I feel that I’m locked in this microcosm of my family – like it’s the only thing that I can think about. The day-to-day of caring for a young child is so demanding that it’s hard to see beyond our own little world. I don’t like that feeling. It feels small and limited. I wish I could do more, do anything. I feel helpless.
But as I dropped my daughter off at school today and watched her run into the classroom to hug her best friend – love and light shining from her happy face – I realized that I am doing something. I’m raising a little person and I’m doing it with love as my guiding principle. I’m surrounding her with love in every aspect of her life. I’m doing my best to ensure that she’s kind, empathetic, caring, peaceful and good. I’m making choices about discipline and parenting that I believe will help her become an accepting, compassionate and loving person. And as she gets older I’ll try to teach her about the world in a way that will make her understanding and willing to help.
This, for now, is my work. This is my contribution. To add another soul to the side of good.
One of the best responses that I read in the immediate aftermath of the bombings was from Patton Oswalt. He said that the number of evil people in this world is “not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet.” And that “the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak.”
To act is good, and I wish I could do more right now to help. But to be part of that vast majority standing against the darkness is an act in and of itself. And to add another flame to the light, to bring up another human being to stand on the side of good – that has to count for something.
I hope one day, when my children are older, that I’ll be able to participate more actively again with those who stand up for good every day. And I hope that my children will come with me and help out too.
But for now, I’m satisfied with my role: a mother to children who will take up the stand against evil. The provider and support system for little beings who will grow up to support their fellow humans. The caretaker of those who will one day care for the world.