‘We’ve made the children weep. It’s time to worry.’
Ajay’s home school literature assignment yesterday was to create a ‘black out poem’ from a page in the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ (Blackout Poetry is a mixture of poetry and art made by taking any form of printed text and blacking out the unwanted words to create a poem or statement.)
Knowing he was far more interested in finishing his work quickly than awakening his inner poet, I was not surprised that less than 15 minutes had elapsed when he popped out of his chair yelling ‘done!’ as he threw his arms skyward like he had just scored a field goal.
He slid his two sentence poem onto the kitchen counter and scampered away. I stared at it stunned. He is not one to enjoy literature, but he and I have spent many hours together reading ‘Mockingbird’ … and the conversation this has ushered in about Atticus Finch and what life was like in 1930’s Alabama for the Tom Robinsons of the world has been meaningful to both of us. There are so many profound lessons in this classic piece of writing.
Back to his poem . . . I must have read those two sentences a hundred times yesterday …. in fact they were just about all that I read– it was a busy day and I did not so much as glance at a news headline at all. … but as the sun went down and I put the day’s work away, I turned on the TV… and there to greet me were two absolutely horrific news stories about abuse of power and racial prejudice.
I watched in silence… cried at the irony of the way a poem written from the page of a book published in 1960 about racial prejudice so perfectly reflected the day’s headlines. I asked Ajay to come and watch. (If you do not know which news stories I am referring to, even if you are a not a news watcher…do some searching…. bird watching and taking a knee are the basic themes of the events…)
He sat next to me in disbelief as we watched and listened. He did not weep… but he shook his head side to side in disgust and backed away from the TV. ‘I can’t watch mom. I can’t.’
‘Can I please go?’
He was visibly upset…. and scampered down the hall eager to escape reality and get back to the virtual throng of fellow quaranteens he had been yucking it up with a few minutes prior.
I bit my lip as I thought about the angst us parents feel at letting our children play video games- games that the world says are ruining them. In that moment I felt damn happy that my child had a video game to run toward… and could leave the real world behind for a few minutes.
Like everyone else, I have searched endlessly in the last few months to put into words all that I know is wrong in the world. I write very little these days because I just can’t articulate all that is begging for commentary in daily life. We don’t need more noise- from anyone.
His two sentences are not noise. He made a profoundly accurate social commentary … ushered in by nothing more than the innocence of a kid trying to finish his literature homework quickly and get back to his x-box. His life is a good one – and in many ways he has sailed through these last few months unscathed by so many of the pains that plague others in this world… yet somewhere in his core, even my moppy haired boy who has learned to adjust his sails perfectly for these winds of change…. knows that we as a species are in trouble. We all know this in our core, but have a hard time articulating it.
Those two sentences… ‘We’ve made the children weep. It’s time to worry.’ … so prophetic and multi- faceted. So profoundly applicable to all of us . . . but most especially to our innocent children who do not yet see the gravity of the fact that they will inherit this world that we ‘the elders’ have created and continue to manifest.
I guess sometimes all truth needs is a vessel…. And yesterday that vessel in my world was Ajay.
Truth. It comes through us, not from us.