Thursday, January 3, 2013

What to Tell My Someday Daughters, What to Teach My Someday Sons

Phil and I have been thinking about having children someday soonish. I checked out What to Expect Before You're Expecting at the library because I fully intend on being crazy like that. Marcia bought me a baby names book for Christmas. I flip through it and I find a name for my son. It's easy. I can see myself holding him. I can picture him crawling in our house. I can imagine him playing touch football with his friends. I am committed to trying to teach him a life of nonviolence, though everyone says this impossible. People laugh at me when I say I won't buy him toy guns and tanks and swords. “You can't do it, Kylee,” multiple moms who know have told me, “boys will be boys.”

I cannot find a name for my daughter. There are beautiful names. But I can't see myself actually having a baby girl named anything. I'm afraid to have daughter. To imagine her as a real person is to imagine how beautiful she will be. How precious and complex and unique and wonderful. And to imagine that at all is to imagine the heart wrenching truth that this beauty will be wounded. I don't know what to say to her about it. I don't know how to teach her about this world or how to be in it. 

I am surrounded by women most days. The large majority of my coworkers are women. All my clients are women. And each of these women, to varying extents, carries with her a story of violence visited upon her because of her gender. These stories change us. 

And every time I hear another story of violence, something grows in me. I don't know what to call it. It is largely composed of anger. How does this continue to be something so unaddressed in our society? Worse, in our churches? How is it that millions of people rally around abortion issues or equal job opportunities for women, but so little is done about this violence that is everywhere? Where the hell are those bumper stickers? Where is this education program? Who is preaching this sermon? And how are we supposed to do anything about this in a world that has made an ethic of nonviolence “impossible” to teach? I'm not typically an outspoken person on political issues, or really any issues. But maybe I'm just sick of that. Maybe that's not the person I want to be for my daughter, my son. 

Things that I believe that I am scared to say I believe:  I believe in the sanctity of life. All lives. I believe unborn children have a right to live, and so do children who die in war campaigns. I believe in nonviolence. I actually don't think it's impossible. I believe that the church has done a terrible disservice to its daughters. I believe it's time to do something different. I believe there is another way. 

I know that anger is not the answer. I know that hate does not solve hate. I know that “love” is the answer. I know that God redeems all things and can make broken things beautiful. But I am tired of “love” equaling out to doing nothing. To staying silent. To acceptance. I am tired of God's redemption being an excuse for our lack of real love, passion, action, and boldness. I am tired of people throwing up their hands and saying nothing can be done, and I'm tired of joining. It simply isn't true that the issue is bigger than the solution we have. It can't be true that our God is powerless or has no ideas. I don't know what the answer is, but I want to be a person looking, praying, crying out for one, or at least something closer.

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