On our way to Charlottesville, VA to visit my friend at UVA Medical Center, my daughter and I were discussing the conditions surrounding the recent riots and controversies surrounding the statues commemorating the Civil War. Showing concern for the fact that my grandchildren will be confused about their history, I stated that these events will hurt the next generation as a professed hatred for the hatred of the Civil War has led to more hatred and violence.
Clarabelle, being her inquisitive self, asked, “what will hurt us?”
I explained that things that happened before right now are called history and history is important. When she asked why, I explained that there are some things that work out great and we should remember those things so that we can do these again. I added that some things are not so good and we should remember those so that we do not do them again. History, I told her, is something that helps us to learn. She added that learning is fun and that she is learning about things every day.
She still did not understand what we meant by these events hurting her or what was going on. Of course, a toddler should not understand these things. They should not have to live in a world where anger creates more anger and adults justify the anger and violence without considering the children. Our only response was that sometimes grown ups fight about stuff when they think differently about what it means.
She sat quietly and, from all we can gather, she considered what we tell her and her cousins when they fight about a toy. We tell them to find a different toy and let one another play. She looked at us as seriously as a wise old man trying to give advice to the younger generation and said:
“Why can’t everyone just go to their own houses and do their own thing?”
We could not answer that question and we could not understand how a child can get this but an entire nation of adults cannot.
For the sake of our children, we must do better,