My daughter has this beautiful idea called Kids for Peace. Her hunch is that if kids from different parts of the world were to become friends now, then chances are good they’ll refuse to fight one another when they’re adults. “Real friendship,” she says, “diminishes the potential for war.”
She’s nine and has the vision of a Nobel Peace Laureate.
When she learned of the attacks in Syria last week that killed kids, she was ruined. She sobbed for the children of Syria, her global brothers and sisters, who had been senselessly killed in such a heinous way. And then she sobbed again when she learned that her country of origin had just launched a 59-missile strike to send a message to Syria.
In our house, we teach the power of reconciliation, creative collaboration, and costly love. Our family understands the table to be the most important piece of furniture on the planet as it creates the best opportunities for courageous, restorative conversation. We emphasize these values, not only because they work but because they are the embodiment of the teachings of Jesus.
Thursday’s military strike was the antithesis of our values and it rattled my daughter. I watched as her tears turned into a rage that sought a target. When Donald Trump became her “other,” even her enemy, a new conversation and opportunity was born. In navigating that moment, we would either affirm her “othering” or we could teach her why we refuse to be enemies.
My little girl uses words well, so we invited her to think about and then write down what she would like to say to Donald Trump in an effort to respectfully persuade him toward something other than violence.
Here is what she wrote:
Dear Donald Trump,
Why do you want and like war? War is just the USA giving pain, guns, and money to groups of people.
“Once upon a time, there was a tribe who was trying to protect themselves. The USA came in and gave them guns and money. Guns and money! I mean, guns and money aren’t everything at all. Love is everything. Don’t you know that? Anyway, when the USA gave them guns and money, the tribe became powerful and rich. They used their power and money to fight and kill their enemies. Then, the USA came in and bombed the tribe that we had given power and money to for being violent. It started a war and we were at fault.”
Why is it that my country likes to fight wars? Why have we been fighting my entire life? Is it because it makes us rich and powerful? Is that we want? Is that what you want?
Mr. Trump, I know that you might like power and money, but, like I said, power and money are not everything. Love is! When we give love instead of guns we feel better and so do those we give love to. Giving love is just better than killing people. Don’t you think so? You do, don’t you?
Please. No more war.