Looking ahead last week, planning this week’s blog, I had decided to write about children – my children and what a blessing they have been for my husband and me.
Then came Friday and Connecticut.
Now we are all thinking about children, our own and those we have never met. My own mother told me that you never “outgrow” being a parent. You never get over knowing what it feels like to fear for your child’s safety. I have not been there but I expect that parents who have lost a son or daughter (of any age) never entirely get over that pain.
Much of what happens in the world is beyond our individual or collective control. But a great deal of what might happen can be affected by what we all do. We can make the world a better and safer place for the children, all the children.
But back to my earlier comment about my own children. Our son and daughter are no longer children. Both were adopted from Colombia more than thirty years ago. The time we went to Bogota to meet our son was our first trip to South America. Two years later I returned to collect our daughter. Their entire childhood was spent in Acton, Massachusetts, visiting Midwestern WASP grandparents in the summers. Though there were as many as nine Latin-born children in our Sunday school at one time, their culture in Acton was pretty much white bread.
Both kids became more aware of their Latin identity when they attended college. Our son had studied French in high school, but found himself addressed in Spanish on the streets of Albuquerque. He added Spanish and eventually Portuguese to his language facility, and has become a confident participant in several Latin societies. Our daughter studied Spanish from the start. Though she downplays her accumulated skill there, she has managed travel in Spain and the Spanish Caribbean very nicely. Both are now living in the northeast quadrant of the US (Portland, ME and Arlington, VA) and both prefer a diverse, multi-ethnic environment over their more monochromatic hometown.
If my husband and I have had an influence on our children, they have certainly had an impact on our lives and our view of the world. (I expect most parents would say that, and the more out of the ordinary their children’s experience has been, the more the statement applies. But as in Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average,” one’s own experiences ring the truest!) Our two Colombian gems are the inspiration for my personal and professional interest in South and Central America, Spain, and Portugal.
In encouraging people to cross borders of all kinds, I am trying to make the world safer for my own and for all the world’s children. If we can get to the point where we don’t automatically consider people different from ourselves as “those people,” we will all be safer and more at home. No child deserves to have life shortened by violence, by lack of food or water, or by failure of government to maintain peace. Every child deserves better.
Let us live in the promise of Christmas and dedicate ourselves to making the hoped-for world come to be!
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
20 December 2012