Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/17/2012

Tragedy and Our Children

I wasn’t going to comment on the recent massacre at all since I would have had nothing to offer that would honor the memory of the murdered or assuage the pain of those who have to pick up the pieces. What happened is almost beyond comprehension and my silence was the best way I knew how to address the whole tragedy. This morning, however, I awoke to a barrage of emails being sent back and forth between the various parents of my son’s classmates and was shocked by my reaction.

Of all of the emails I read, I found myself bubbling over with aversion to those which were begging and almost demanding that parents either refrain from discussing the subject with their children or to simply ask their kids not to speak about it in school. Now, why did this raise my ire? I’m sure it has something to do with this feeling that no one should tell me what to do with my kids as well as a feeling of superiority that I’ve decided I deserve due to my enlightened understanding of reality: I “know” that suffering is part and parcel of life. It therefore seems obvious to me that to hide anything from our kids or to try to manage their experience of the world beyond our apartment is futile and destined to failure. But, is it really that simple?

I’m beginning to think it’s not so neat and tidy and that, although I wouldn’t email a group of parents a similar message, I can understand the impulse. We want to protect our children and go to great lengths to shield them from scary, violent and/or sexual images that we are afraid will damage them. This is the impulse that I need to undrstand and the perception to cultivate and attend to with regard to these emails and conversations. Rather than deriding those who would attempt to rail against the inexorable truths of life why not stay true my goal of realizing the Dhamma and living a life of compassion and charity?

May we all see clearer with the light of compassion and kindness!


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  1. compassionate and sensitively written

  2. You are just using your compassion to judge. You are not better than those parents.

    • You are definitely right that I was judging those parents although I don’t think one can correctly say that compassion is caqpable of doing so. What I was grappling with was precisely this feeling of superiority which is never justified. I am sorry if that wasn’t clear because I certainly don’t feel I’m any better (or any worse) than them. Thank you for your reply. Metta.

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