Saturday, September 4, 2010

If we cared for one another's children

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead

The solution to adult problems tomorrow depends on large measure upon how our children grow up today.
~ Margaret Mead

Today my kids and their friends launched their Pulling for Pakistan project. At 6:30 am we loaded up the van with our wagons and signs and headed down to our farmer's market.  We set up our info table and donation jar just outside the market and started offering shoppers help to their vehicles in exchange for a donation to the Canadian Red Cross Pakistan Flood Relief Fund.   It started off a bit slow but then our friends started to arrive and business picked up.  The kids would pull in teams, sometimes with a parent and other times on their own.

People were exceedingly generous. And patient. And so kind in their encouragement and comments to the kids.

I was a bit hesitant last night as I was searching online for pictures to print out that showed the extent of the need without being too upsetting (and no the sad irony of that was not lost on me.)  I was so disheartened at one point reading comments to the news stories about why people have been slow to give to this crisis. Religion. Politics. Donor fatigue. Helplessness. Skepticism and mistrust.

And then today I was blown away by the fact that none of that seemed to matter to the people who dropped coins and bills in our jars. Until, late in the day, one woman approached me and told me how much she disagreed with what we were doing. That Pakistan has nuclear weapons. That the "Muslim countries" aren't doing enough and that there are other people more deserving of our attention and our efforts.  Slightly alarmed, I tried to keep walking her away from the kids. I told her that I agreed with her concerns about peace but that the Red Cross is not the Pakistan government and that NGOs are trying to help people whose lives have been torn apart by this flood as best they can. I explained that all my children wanted to do was to help other children who were homeless, hungry, thirsty, at risk of serious disease and who were undoubtedly scared that no one would help them. That our kids had done similar things to raise funds and send care packages to Haiti, send books to First Nations communities, and collect food for the food bank. That what these children behind me wanted to do was help where they could, however they can, without reserve, because it is the right thing to do.

And I told her that perhaps if we cared for each others children, and we taught our children to care for each other more than we care about our politics, that perhaps, just perhaps, we could create a world without the need for weapons.

Our kids, through the generosity of others, raised $560 today.
We'll be back next week.
I'll be better prepared to handle questions.
But I can't see that I could be any more proud of these kids and the community they are creating.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown... The children, the young, must ask the questions that we would never think to ask, but enough trust must be re-established so that the elders will be permitted to work with them on the answers.

~ Margaret Mead


Amie Callahan said...

Wow. Your family is inspiring. I think you were very good at addressing this woman's concerns, whether or not you changed her mind.

Karen said...

Thanks Amie for your kind words.
My kids and their friends teach me every day how to give freely, and take action.

I think though that most people just need a way to make it easy to give, and to remind them it doesn't take much if we all do a little. There were lots of $20 bills in jars.

I doubt I changed that woman's mind. And she had some valid points. I am glad she came to talk to me because I got a chance to clarify for myself and for my kids why we try our best to make a difference even when things are complicated.

I appreciate your comment.