Yesterday afternoon, I was discussing the horrifying and brutal killing of Shaima Alawadi with my wife Laura, when our nine year old daughter Sydney came out on the porch and overheard us talking.
Rather than immediately stop the conversation because I thought it inappropriate for her age, we let her listen for a bit and form some questions about what she was hearing. She wanted to understand why this woman was killed. Trying to explain to her that there was really no other explanation other than “sometimes people are afraid of people who are different than they are, and they do stupid, evil things because of that fear and hate” didn’t completely resonate with her.
That explanation, even to a nine year old, seems so insufficient. It led to a more important lesson that I seized the opportunity to impart to her. Based on the way she listened and seemed to internalize, I know she thought seriously about what I was saying.
“Sydney, what you need to know is that it’s not ok to hate because someone is different than you. Not because they have a different color skin. Not because they have a different religion. Not because they talk differently, or act differently, or look or sound differently. But it’s not just enough that you yourself don’t hate others because of these things. It is your responsibility to stand up for others when you see someone attacking them for any of these reasons. One of the privileges you have being, albeit momentarily, in the majority in our country, is to stand up for what is right, and make sure others different than you don’t have to face this kind of hate.”
I hope if enough parents of young children try to impart a similar lesson their generation will never have to read a horrible “Shaima Alawadi” story.