Kindness Of Strangers

March 30, 2012

Gracious Living Day by DayI am the mother of three children.

My children and I, 1994

My children and I, 1994

To me, they are the most precious and cherished beings that walk this complex and difficult world.

But, I have always recognized the fact, and hope that I continue to do so, that they are human beings first: imperfect, challenging, prone to occasionally making (what to me appear to be) foolish choices.

Mike is 26 years old now, Nena is 23 and Sam 19. I can say without reservation that I believe them to be good people, the kind of people that any country would be proud to have as its citizens.

As children and teenagers, they gave their father and me immeasurable joy.

And plentiful challenge.

But while I wasn’t happy to be challenged, and the anxious part of me wanted them to be safe models of perfection at all times, I also knew that the way to adulthood is paved with rule-breaking.  All children instinctively know this, and my own challenged their parents and their community in all the usual ways that developing juveniles do to test the boundaries of adult rules and principles of behavior.

They ran down the streets of our town, giving people pause and making them turn around. They wore (what some would consider) inappropriate clothing. Sometimes they were loud, sometimes dark and sullen.

Maybe one of them walked through an overly proper neighborhood once, wearing a silly outfit, looking immature, suspicious and out of place – and frightened a concerned resident. I wouldn’t be surprised if this had happened.

There were many nights when I sat in the dark, by our living room window, waiting for one of my children to come home.

Looking into that secretive darkness I hoped that the world out there would be kind and merciful and forgiving to the foibles of my children. I hoped for tolerance and kindness from strangers.

I still do.

My heart goes out to the mother and father of Trayvon Martin.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Hari April 7, 2012 at 5:44 am

I used to notice all of the things that were wrong with how people treat each other. It seemed as though people were becoming more rude, uncompassionate, and uncaring. It was really depressing! It turns out, if you decide to open your eyes, there is still a ton of goodness in the world. Over time, my perception did an about-face, and so did my mood.
A lot of my motivation has been inspired by an amazing documentary project I have had the great fortune to work on called American Bear. It simply a beautiful exploration of the kindness that strangers exhibit in this country. The couple who made the project went around the country for 60 days relying on the kindness of strangers for shelter each night and documented their experience. The insight that they shed on this underexposed subject is so powerful! Check out the website here: AmericanBearFilm.com
And you can also check out the facebook page here:
http://www.facebook.com/BearDocumentary

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John March 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Oh Liliana! None of the million words written about this tragedy gets to its essence better than you just did. Thank you.

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Liliana March 31, 2012 at 6:55 am

Dear John, you have made me cry. I send you hugs and good wishes.

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Sandra March 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Thank you, dear mothers everywhere, for your heartfelt sentiments. How can we not grieve, not only for Trayvon but for the loved ones of the person that killed him. This is such a tragedy, for all of us.

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Liliana March 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I sometimes image how glorious it would be if mothers came out into the streets – the world over – and demanded what matters to them most – health and happiness of all children!

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Sandra April 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I agree, wholeheartedly. I think what you imagine IS possible, just by one mother at a time. What we do in our immediate sphere of influence can change the world. We are all capable of spreading love to counteract the hate all around us.

Thanks again for sharing your poetic wisdom with all of us!

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Gordana Curgus March 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

Liliana and Ana,
You both expressed so nicely what I’m sure every mother was thinking while watching this sad story of Trayvon Martin on TV. My heart, as mother of an only-child, goes to his parents and family, but also to this person who killed him, as he will have to live with this on his consciousness to the rest of his life. I do not know how one does live after killing the human being.

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Liliana March 30, 2012 at 9:39 am

Well said, Gordana. Everyone is affected by these kinds of actions. All of us are.

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Ana March 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

Thank you…free of politics, your words get down to why this was really such a tragic event. He was just a boy. Unarmed. Just a boy. This is how I feel about the story too…as the media tries to now expose “new” information about him, that maybe he made some trouble at school, that maybe he got into fights occasionally I can’t help but thinking…but this is just a boy. Even if he was being a little foolish at the time, aren’t we all, especially while we are young?

When I read the story I thought of my brother, and all of my friends, and the countless times walking to or from somewhere that I’m sure we seemed out of place, or the boys thought it would be funny to “borrow” an unlocked bike for a block or two and put it back. It’s just kids stuff. We’re still to naive in our youth about the kindesss of strangers it seems.

I don’t think it matters what the boy was doing. He was unarmed. Now he is gone forever. And I see in him the face of every other boy I know, black or white or any other race you want to name.

May he rest in peace and may his family find peace somehow in this terrible time for them.

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Liliana March 30, 2012 at 8:52 am

Dearest Ana,
I am so impressed and moved at how profoundly you understand the situation. I wish the medial would also strip all the nonsense away and realize – Treyvon was just a boy!

Love and hugs to you.

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Betsy March 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

How beautiful.

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Liliana March 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

Thank you, Betsy. Mothers know…

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