From “Lars and the Real Girl”
Lars, at home, looks at three ladies in his living room. The women brought a casserole, and are now sitting down to knit.
Lars: Um, is there something I should be doing right now?
Mrs. Gruner: No, dear. You eat.
Sally: We came over to sit.
Hazel: That’s what people do when tragedy strikes.
Sally: They come over, and sit.
I love that scene (and if you haven’t seen the movie, you should watch it), because it reminds me of some of the best parts of growing up in a small church community in the Midwest. If there was a death or major illness, you took a casserole to the family. You’d make the effort to show up at someone’s house even if you didn’t know what to do, because sometimes in the face of tragedy just being there is the best you can do.
I thought of that scene more than once, after I heard about how some neo-nazis broke the windows at a synagogue a few miles from us on Wednesday night. On Friday there was a candlelight vigil, and I wanted to take Bodhi, but struggled with what to say. Here’s the conversation we ended up having:
“Bodhi, tonight we’re going to do something special. Some mean people did something really not nice to our friends, and our friends are very sad and angry about it. And sometimes when someone is feeling sad, the best thing we can do is just to go be with them, so they see us and remember how many friends they have that love them. Then they won’t feel so sad and afraid.”
“What did the mean people do?”
“They broke some windows at our friends’ church.”
“I can take my toolbox and use my tools and fix the window.”
“That would be a nice way to show our friends we care. Things like this also make me very sad. I don’t like it when people are mean to our friends. Can I have a hug?”
Bo’s nothing if not a good hugger.
The Friday night vigil had a lot of pastors and politicians speaking for a few minutes each, and I don’t know what if anything Bodhi gleaned by going. In truth, there’s only one thing that I wanted to demonstrate to him: that this is something we do. I think that’s enough for now. He’s not ready – or I’m not ready for him – to understand the histories of genocide and oppression of various creeds and faiths and nations. And he doesn’t need to know the difference between all the forms of hatred in the world. At this point for my three year old, I’m content if all that sticks in his mind is this: If our friends are feeling sad, we go out of our way to be with them. I think that’s a good enough start.
Some Excellent Books About Inclusion and Diversity (affiliate links):