I am suffering from dissonance.
“Namaste,” She says laughing lightly and shaking her head in a gentle side-to-side figure-eight motion as I laugh at my own obvious ignorance. The figure-eight head shake is a gesture much like our American nod. It means yes and agreement.
I laugh and nod my agreement, “Of course, Namaste.”
I had asked how to say hello in Hindi, which as it turns out is only one of hundreds of languages spoken natively in India. It is not her native language.
My new friend and I are sharing a quick cup of coffee before we walk up the street to the park. On our way our children ride their tricycles side by side, blond curls next to dark straight hair. We pass Chinese grandmothers with babies in strollers. Women in long Burqas, both colorful and black. Men and women of every ethnicity in business clothes, on their lunch breaks. These are my neighbors. This is my community.
It feels very far from the things that I read in the news. The events of Boston, and the vitriol that splayed across the news and the internet, are terrifying. And infuriating. And heart-breaking.
So, we close out the outside world. I refuse to expose Fiona to the news at times like these anyhow. She has no need to know about the fear and anger and violence that humanity can produce. Not yet. Later she’ll have to, I can’t bubble wrap her forever, but not yet.
Still, I am suffering from dissonance. A discordant jangling at the nerves that tells me that right now, right here, we are out of synch with the rest of the country. We are insulated from the violence. We are strangely untouched by the fear that seems to separate people. That fear and desire for security that seems to make people believe that a difference of race, or culture, or religion caused these horrible events.
I want to shout at the world. No! Fear and Anger and Powerlessness are what cause this! It’s what always causes violence. From the arguments that escalate between people who love each other to the counties that go to war. This is caused by fear. And you cannot stop fear and anger and powerlessness by marginalizing, separating and hating.
You can only stop it through love. And listening. And empowering. And friendship.
Today, I watched two children who were born in different countries, who eat different foods, who have widely differing culture and parents, and they put their heads together and they giggled and they ran. Two children who have no idea about religion, or culture, or violence, but know everything about love and friendship. And I wish today that I could bottle the sound of their laughter and pour it out across the world because it might just be a balm to ease the fear. To give us all a little hope.